It’s the time of year when whole grains, lean proteins and green juices get dumped for a steady diet of cookies, cocktails and cheese platters.
But just because there’s figgy pudding aplenty, doesn’t mean you’re destined to pack on the pounds. Dr. Donald Hensrud, a specialist in preventive and internal medicine at Mayo Clinic and medical director of The Mayo Clinic Healthy Living program, says you can enjoy the holidays without falling off the wellness wagon.
“Everybody’s going to relax a little bit and indulge, but it doesn’t have to derail efforts completely to manage weight,” he said.
Scroll through the gallery for his best health tips for surviving the holidays.
Plan and portion
Don’t just wing it and graze on every hors d’oeuvre in sight. Hensrud says you should approach the holidays with a plan — even if it’s just an outline.
If you’re cooking, swap out the carb-heavy dishes for a pan of roasted vegetables. Replace starchy mashed potatoes with
mashed cauliflower or mashed turnips, and consider replacing your holiday roast with fish. “If people are going away from a traditional meal, they can include a Dijon and Parmesan-crusted salmon or even quinoa cakes for a little variety,” Hensrud said.
If you’re a guest at someone else’s dinner, enjoy the food that’s served, but don’t overdo it with seconds and thirds. Keep to the recommended portion sizes .
And remember, that one meal you eat on Christmas or New Year’s Day isn’t going to completely shatter your scale. There are lots of lunches, dinners and appetizers consumed throughout the holiday season.
“It’s also important to include fruits, vegetables, salads, healthier low-calorie foods, in meals other than the holiday meal to try to stay on track,” Hensrud said.
Incorporate activity into your day
Don’t worry: Hensrud isn’t going to tell you that you need to schedule time on the treadmill during the holidays. And you don’t need to start training for a marathon either.
“Just staying active throughout the day — going for a walk and trying to get some activity every day to help burn off some of those extra calories that we’re consuming — that can be effective as well,” he said.
Don’t get discouraged
If you went crazy on the cream cheese dip or ate your weight in cookies, don’t get discouraged and continue to overdo it because “the damage is done.” Just restart your healthy habits the next day.
“People may indulge, they feel guilty and then that makes it even worse. One of the most important things is being kind to ourselves, and I see this a lot that people tend to be their own worst enemy and beat themselves up because it’s very challenging managing weight,” Hensrud said.
Change your attitude
Don’t let “diet” be a bad word in your vocabulary. Hensrud, who is the author of the second edition of “ The Mayo Clinic Diet ,” says reaching a healthy weight starts with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Weight management doesn’t have to be drudgery; it can be an enjoyable experience,” he said.
“The attitude that people start with is incredibly important. If they approach this in a positive manner — ‘I’m going to be more active, I may lose some weight, I’ll feel better’ — that can make all the difference in the world.”
WASHINGTON — Just because there’s figgy pudding aplenty, that doesn’t mean you’re destined to pack on the pounds.
Dr. Donald Hensrud, a specialist in preventive and internal medicine at Mayo Clinic and medical director of The Mayo Clinic Healthy Living program, says you can enjoy the holidays without falling off the wellness wagon. Here are his best tips.
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