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Be On the Lookout for Holiday Weight Gain

Holidays can be an endless temptation - about 4 months of feasting - that can lead to bad patterns, ill health and weight gain.

TEXARKANA, Ark. –

It is a seemingly endless time of temptation that starts with Halloween candy and goes through Thanksgiving stuffing, Christmas dinners, New Year’s toasts, Super Bowl chips and dips and Valentine’s Day chocolates.  That’s about four months of feasting.  When we feast without control, we set ourselves up for bad patterns, ill health and weight gain.

Over the year, weight gain is usually attributed to holiday weight gain.  So, it is going to be essential to make sure you maintain your weight during the holiday season

As temperatures turn cold, our appetite increases for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods—stews, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese.  When we give in to those cravings for sugary, starchy foods, blood sugar spikes and then falls, setting up a cycle that keeps the appetite in motion.

 Winter also cuts into physical activity.  Since exercise helps increase serotonin levels, if we’re not exercising, our appetite increases, and ultimately that means we’re eating more and moving less—a disaster plan for weight gain.

Maintaining weight is the balance of energy.  If you take in more calories than you burn in physical activity, you store the extra energy around your body in fat and weight gain.  To maintain weight, you have to balance the energy you eat with the energy you burn.  This, of course, demands that we regularly exercise. 

 If your weight gain can be contributed to the holidays, be sure to exercise during the holidays.  Add physical activity to your daily routine, such as taking stairs, parking at the back of the parking lot and dance if the holiday party includes dancing

If you can schedule holiday food celebrations, make them at normal meal times.  Choosing a smaller plate can help you from over-filling the large plate; when your little plate is full, you will readily see that you have a lot of food.  When there is space on a plate, we are tempted to continue to load it.

Start your meal with soup or salad so that you’re not tempted to eat second helpings of cornbread dressing and mashed potatoes with gravy.  Choose more vegetables and if you have dessert, choose angel food cake, ginger bread or fruit.  If you can’t pass up the brownies and chocolate cake, have a much smaller piece than you normally would.

Some people find it helpful to eat some lower calorie foods before attending the party so that they have already eaten and can make themselves limit choices at the festivity. It is much easier to keep off weight than to take off weight.

If you can practice awareness, manage your stress and emotions and plan in advance you can conquer the holiday weight gain.  Be realistic, it is best to maintain weight during this period of time instead of trying to lose weight.  Keep in mind that celebrations are really about family and friends—not food. 

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We are online at cdue@uaex.edu, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.

Serve a healthy and flavorful appetizer by making Orange Cranberry and serving it in the middle of a platter or assorted wheat crackers.

Orange Cranberry Delight

1 cup low-fat or fat cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup orange juice concentrate

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated sugar or sugar substitute

 

Beat cream cheese until fluffy with electric mixer; add orange juice concentrate.  Stir in pecans, cranberries and sugar.  Refrigerate overnight and serve with assorted wheat crackers.

By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609
cdue@uaex.edu

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