Nix Holiday Weight Gain This Year

by Jeanne Rhodes

Itís Monday, January 6th, 6:45 a.m., and the sound of the alarm clock signals the official end of the holidays and all their accompanying excesses. Sleepily you head to the bathroom to prepare yourself for the day. You suddenly decide to step on the scale to determine the holiday ďdamageĒ. You canít believe your eyes - youíve gained ten pounds! Thatís ten extra pounds since November 1st. This vision is the ghost of Christmas Future - foretelling whatís likely to happen to you and millions of others if holiday indulgences follow the usual pattern. The national AVERAGE weight gain for Americans over the end-of-year holidays is ten pounds - and this fate, you say, is precisely what you donít want to happen to you this year. However, you donít want to miss out on all the holiday fun.

Can you fulfill both holiday wishes?

We say yes. Here are some tips from experts to help you do it.

1. Consider othersí health as you consider yours. If you want an un-fattening holiday donít give high fat cookies and chocolates as gifts yourself. Give a fruit basket and the favor may just be returned.

2. Instead of baking, pot some flowers and plants as gifts.

3. Bring a hostess gift to a holiday party - a veggie platter and low fat dip is always appreciated. Itís a warm and generous gift to the hostess, and it gives you something to nibble on that you can enjoy.

4. Be the designated driver. Save your friends and your waistline at the same. In truth, alcohol shuts down fat-burning and adds a lot of calories. Itís also a nice gift to those you are driving.

5. Drink sparkling water (or plain) with a twist of lemon. Water assists with fat-burning in addition to a whole host of other health benefits!

6. Have a quick snack before you leave home for the party event. A whole grain cracker with a tablespoon of peanut butter - even if you eat it on the way. If you arrive at the party hungry, youíve set yourself up for an eating marathon!

7. Limit your choices to a few smart selections, in moderate amounts, of foods you really enjoy. Or, have just a sample taste of three or four that you find especially appealing. Work the room, not the buffet!

8. Be polite but persistent. Prepare for friendsí bonbon-pushing assaults by having a ready reason why you find it necessary not to go overboard:

* ďIím on a Wellness program to improve my health.Ē

* ďIím sure it is absolutely delicious, but Iím full - could I take some home with me for tomorrow?Ē

* ďNo, thank you. It looks delicious, but I must decline.Ē

Honesty is the best policy after all.

9. If you receive gifts of cakes, cookies and chocolates, give them as gifts to an orphanage, the Salvation Army or other local food shelters. Even ďjunkĒ food is better than no food at all for some of these people.

10. Take a walk for dessert. Your family and/or friends can join you. Or, go Christmas caroling. You may just start a new tradition.

11. At party events, hold a glass in one hand and a plate in the other. With both hands full, you will not be able to eat your way through the evening.

12. Walk or ride your bike from Nazareth to Bethlehem - about 70 miles or so. Add up the daily totals over the 12 - 14 days of Christmas.

If you slip a little once in awhile, donít dwell on it. You can ruin your holiday fun and it wonít solve anything. Be open to learn from your mistakes and keep your sense of humor, good cheer and enjoy the truly wonderful things the holiday can bring. Youíll be surprised at how little you miss the heavy foods and inactivity - and youíll notice a definite increase in energy and mental brightness!

Jeanne Rhodes, B.A., M.A., is a Nutritionist, Wellness Lifestyle Strategist, Author and Director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute in Hagerstown.