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Sarasota Monday, Dec. 31, 2018 7 months ago

Weight and stress are all part of the holiday experience

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Experts say to be kind to yourself.
by: Suzanne Elliott Staff Writer

Many of us enjoy the festive days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, a time a lot of us look forward to year-round.

It’s a time to catch up with family and friends that you’ve not seen in a while. Plus, it’s a time to indulge in foods we don’t usually consume and perhaps drink more alcohol than we normally should.

That’s why many of us have gained weight and don’t feel well when Jan. 1 rolls around and life returns to normal. So, how do you detox and lose weight from all the fun, food and festivities?

Simple. Take back control of your food intake and exercise. Plan what you eat, keep a food log, start small, be determined and don’t be afraid to fail, two local dieticians said. Perhaps more importantly, don’t feel guilty. Guilt doesn’t work, they said.

“People will gain and hold onto 1 to 2 pounds each holiday,” Emily Harren, an outpatient dietician with Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, said. “When we get off track and get inertia, it’s hard to start again.”

That’s why it’s important to keep a record of what you eat and how much you exercise, said Margaret Adams, a registered dietician and nutritionist with Manatee Healthcare System.

“Start with a small goal that is achievable and keep a record,” Adams said. “Then, start on another small goal. 

“Find a buddy to start healthy eating with,” Adams said. “Sign up for a zumba class. Clear out the pantry and go shopping for healthy foods.”

It helps to prepare meals in advance, said Harren, who recommends eating small meals or snacks every three to four hours. This way, you can ensure portions are properly sized and meals are balanced.

“You’ll know how many carbs you can have throughout the day,” she said.

“Add a serving of vegetables at lunch or dinner,” Harren said. “Any kind. Experiment with a new vegetable. Vegetables have a high nutritional value and are low calories. They fill you up.”

Another step, Adams said, is to start with breakfast in the morning. Breakfast should include whole grains, fruit and protein, such as an egg. By eating a healthy breakfast, you’re less likely to snack.

“Drink water,” Adams said. “Start getting back with water. It’s important to stay hydrated. You will feel better.”

To get back on track, Harren said it’s important to eat at your usual times during the day. Plus, make room for favorite foods, just eat smaller portions. Keep favorite snack foods out of sight, Adams said.

“Eat a snack before you go to a party if you are truly hungry,” Harren said. “The brain often confuses hunger and thirst schedules. Have a glass of water and re-evaluate. “

And remember what your mother and grandmother told you about eating.

“Slow down while you eat,” Adams said. “Take 20 minutes, put your fork down and chew your food 20 to 30 times.”

Another way to detox during the holidays is to keep stress at bay. Take breaks from holiday duties like planning, cleaning and shopping, and do something you like to do during this time of year, like watching a holiday movie with a friend.

Also get enough sleep. Too little sleep can interfere with hunger and thirst cues. If traveling, make sure time is taken to exercise.

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