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Eat well during the holidays - without gaining weight

Maintaining weight during the holiday season can be challenging, says Shayna Komar, a licensed and registered dietitian at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont. She encourages her clients to focus on maintaining their weight during the holidays. “It’s tough with lots of parties and eating out, but it’s also important to balance your life,” she says. She shares five tips to help outsmart excess holiday pounds.

Tip #1: Portion control

“Make sure that your plate has a whole lot of color on it,” says Komar. “I always say to my clients, ‘Eat from the rainbow.’ About 75 percent of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables and that last 25 percent can be lean protein.”

Tip #2: Eat before you go to the party

“This is a big deal,” she says. “I make sure my clients are eating well throughout the day before they go to their parties. It’s important because you don’t want to go when you’re starving and then grab everything on the table.” By eating before you arrive at an event, you can avoid overindulging on unhealthy dishes.

Tip #3: Choose wisely

“When you get to a party, function or potluck dinner, look at everything on the table,” advises Komar. “Calories are almost like a bank account and you get to spend them throughout the day, so spend your calories wisely.”

She again recommends focusing on colorful foods and avoiding dishes that are creamy or fried. She recommends filling your plate with colorful fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, then choosing one or two treats to splurge on. Creamy or fried dishes should be enjoyed in moderation.

“You are fueling your body and you want to keep your immune system strong through the holiday season to not get sick,” she says. “It’s okay to take a small amount of [rich food], but it is better that your whole plate has a lot of color on it if you’re trying to choose wisely.” 

#4: Watch the amount of alcohol you drink

Calories from alcoholic drinks can add up very quickly, so Komar recommends alternating adult beverages with water or other calorie-free options.

“When you’re drinking a lot of calories and eating a lot of calories, that’s when you can gain weight,” she explains. “The recommended amount is one drink for women (that’s about 5 ounces) and two drinks for men. Anything over that, you need to be very careful because you’re getting a lot of excess calories.”

Tip #5: Make time to exercise

Komar encourages her clients to meet friends for walking dates, rather than drinks or dinner. “It’s really important to keep your immune system strong and one of the ways that you can do that is through exercising,” she says. “It’s recommended to fit in about 150 minutes of exercise a week. Plan it in your calendar and make it part of your daily routine.”

And finally, don’t forget to enjoy the season. “These are a few tips to help you get through the holiday season, and maintain – not gain – weight,” says Komar.

“Enjoy the holiday season. It’s important to have a great time with family and friends, but also balance it with healthy eating and exercise.”

For more healthy eating tips, visit Cancer Wellness at Piedmont and Health & Wellness.

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