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DOD registered dietitians offer strategies for healthy holiday eating

☷DOD registered dietitians offer strategies for healthy holiday eating

U.S. Army
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   Department of Defense registered dieticians offer healthy eating strategies to help service members and their families during the holidays . They caution holiday indulging can contribute to a slow yearly weight gain . ( Army Public Health Center graphic illustration by Graham Snodgrass ) Have you ever heard the phrase , “The best way to lose weight is to not gain it in the first place ” When it comes to maintaining our weight , many of us may let our guard down from mid - November until mid - January . This holiday weight gain can contribute to a slow yearl......y weight gain . Studies published in the December 2020 Obesity Science Practice and July 2017 Journal of Obesity found 1–2 pounds of weight gain were consistently observed during this period . Participants in the National Weight Control Registry found having a wider range of strategies may be helpful to navigate the challenges to weight control during the holidays . In one study of 195 adults , published in the New England Journal of Medicine , this gain was not reversed during spring or summer months , and the net of 1 pound remained . This might not seem like much , but if this weight is not lost during the year , then it adds up to 20 pounds over 20 years . To help us all navigate the holiday season , I’ve gathered some tips and ideas from a variety of Department of Defense registered dietitians . 1 . Maintain your routine . “Maintaining weight or weight loss is all about routine and consistency , ” explained Tammy Lindberg , the Air Force Services Center dietitian . “Even if your routine of sleep , activity and stress reduction is controlled , there is still the eating pattern that could potentially derail your best intentions . Regardless of where you are eating holiday meals , one strategy is to understand it is a holiday and allow yourself to sample all the unique recipes that you or others have created to support this season . ” Lindberg says small samples are the key , which means , take a taste . “This is easier if half your plate is full of nutrient - dense , low - calorie vegetables and fruits , ” said Lindberg . “If you are visiting someone for dinner , use the opportunity to bring a dish that you can control the calories . Then after you enjoy a meal , ensure the rest of your routine is followed . ” Lindberg also shared this thought , “It is said you cannot outrun a bad diet . Portion control and routine will minimize any setbacks of the holiday cheer . ” 2 . Budget your calories . “I will budget calories for foods I really enjoy and skip the foods I enjoy less , or can get another time , ” says Air Force Lt . Col . Heidi L . Clark , chief , Nutritional Medicine Clinical Support Service at the Defense Health Agency . “I love pecan pie and will always save room for a slice , alongside a delicious scoop of sweet potato casserole . I might skip the regular mashed potatoes , because those are something I can get other times of the year , and not eat any apple pie because that ' s not my favorite . ” Clark also recommends making time for at least a walk , or other exercise , even if it ' s something light or a short workout . “Getting outside for a walk is a great way to let your food digest , to get away from the kitchen full of tempting leftovers and good smells , and burn a few calories , ” said Clark . “If you can coax family and friends to walk and talk with you , even better . ” Clark says to intentionally plan for light and healthy meals between the bigger , less healthy holiday meals . She recommends trying to limit foods you might indulge in occasionally during the year – fried food , fast food , desserts – knowing that you ' ll be splurging on special holiday foods . “I might indulge in a bowl of frozen yogurt a few times a month during the summer but probably not in November and December knowing that I ' ll be eating pecan pie and other treats , ” said Clark . 3 . Keep traditions – use portion control and moderation . “This year Chanukah begins Dec . 18 , and fried foods such as latkes ( potato pancakes ) and sufganiyot ( doughnuts ) are served at parties and family dinners , ” says Michelle Goldberg , chief of Nutrition Services at Presidio of Monterey Health Clinic . “My tip is not to try to make these holiday foods healthy , but rather enjoy these Chanukah favorites using portion control and moderation . Happy Chanukah!” 4 . Focus on creative fruits and vegetables . Sharlene Holladay , Warfighter and Performance dietitian at Headquarters Marine Corps , says one of her favorite tips around the holidays is to focus on creative vegetable sides and fruit - forward breakfasts and desserts rather than center - of - plate proteins . “Create true meals around the holidays , not just one - day meals for the holidays , ” said Holladay . She likes to make creative recipes such as parmesan asparagus; sesame mushroom warm romaine salad; toasted walnut and berry arugula; toasted granola , almond and pumpkin parfait; grilled banana and peanut butter waffles; zucchini pancakes as a dinner; avocado toast with cherry tomatoes and arugula; beet and walnut salad; grilled romaine; and curry yogurt toasted cauliflower . 5 . Plan and prepare meals in advance . “I recommend meal prepping on the weekends , ” says Karen Hawkins , registered dietitian with the Department of Defense Office of Military Family Readiness Policy . She recommends planning and preparing one meal to eat several times during the week to help lessen the stress during the holidays . “As an example , I’ll make a Thai peanut noodle salad and eat some for dinner , ” said Hawkins . “Then I add it to salad for lunch one day and add beans to it for another dinner during the week . ” 6 . Don ' t go to events when you’re hungry . Theresa Osteen , registered dietitian at Lyster Army Health Clinic , Fort Rucker , Alabama , recommends enjoying social events around the holidays but avoiding going to them when you’re really hungry . “I recommend fixing a small plate of your favorites while controlling to portions , avoid getting seconds , and finally , avoid hanging around the food area to prevent mindless eating when the food is right there in front of you , ” said Osteen . 7 . Eat intuitively . Heather Hough , clinical dietitian at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany , says her best advice is to stop thinking of foods as “good” and “bad . ” “Give yourself unconditional permission to eat all year , space to observe how you feel about what you ate , and time to consider how to proceed moving forward , ” said Hough . "True overeating is completely subjective and can only be determined by you . ” Hough says restricting food consumption all year and only giving yourself permission to eat certain foods around the holidays will increase feelings of lack of control with food . “Remember that one food or meal does not make or break your health , ” said Hough . “Don’t use weight as a marker to determine how you feel about your food experiences . If guilt is a factor in how you feel about your eating experiences , I urge you to consider healing your relationship with food . " 8 . Enjoy sampling unique foods . “Traditional holiday indulgences should be welcomed , but keep portion sizes in mind to make room for all that you choose to enjoy , ” said Jennifer Person , registered dietitian at Naval Supply Systems Command in Mechanicsburg , Pennsylvania . “Don’t stuff your plate with all the foods on the table; instead , sample those foods that are unique and special to you . This may sound funny , but a coworker was trying to convince herself not to eat some foods that were at a holiday party one year . I asked her how she was refraining from indulging , and she said , ‘I already know what this tastes like . ’ Honestly , I tell myself this too now , and it works . ” Here are some more tips to add to your strategies for a healthy holiday: 9 . Is it on the “document - worthy scale” My son judges a dessert or a special food by the “document - worthy scale . ” He ranks the food on a scale of 1 to 10 , with 1 being terrible and 10 being the most amazing food in memory . You can also ask yourself: “Is it worthy of posting on my social media or telling my friends ” 10 . Limit the alcoholic drinks . Alcoholic drinks are full of calories . Try to be selective with your holiday beverages . Enjoy your first beverage , and then transition to water . One hint is to keep a glass of water with you during a holiday event . The more water you drink , the less food you are likely going to eat . 11 . Part with holiday food gifts after the holidays . I find having gift baskets of delicious goodies around the house in the last week of December to be a difficult temptation to resist . My suggestion is the “three - bite rule , ” which gives me a taste of something I really desire without going overboard . I also suggest taking the extra goodies to work , church or some other gathering to share with others . This is my final holiday tip: 12 . Monitor your weight . Hold yourself accountable , and step on the scale more frequently during the holiday season . If you see the scale going over your personal threshold , take action quickly to get back on track . Try to keep your exercise routine on track as much as possible . Regular exercise will help to balance out the special treats during the season . Nutrition is part of the Performance Triad of sleep , activity and nutrition . Explore this topic more by visiting the Army Public Health Center ' s Performance Triad website . The U . S . Army Public Health Center enhances Army readiness by identifying and assessing current and emerging health threats , developing and communicating public health solutions , and assuring the quality and effectiveness of the Army’s Public Health Enterprise . NOTE: The mention of any non - federal entity and/or its products is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed or interpreted , in any manner , as federal endorsement of that non - federal entity or its products .


24 November 2022 ( November 24 2022 )



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DOD registered dietitians offer strategies for healthy holiday eating
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