By Holly Brennan, RD LDN

It’s that time of year again. Have you been diligent (or at least mindful) about managing your weight all year? Or have you just been more careful choosing fresher and healthier foods? Does the thought of the upcoming holiday season (and the never-ending abundance of food) make you a little anxious? If so, you are not alone.

A study conducted at the Boston Medical Center revealed that about 45 million Americans are dieting at any given time, spending over $33 billion a year on weight loss products. And that’s counting only those trying to lose weight – that doesn’t even touch those just trying to make better food choices for their own health.

‘Weight-Gain Season’

There is one thing for certain: From Halloween through New Year’s Day, we are surrounded by food and all of the temptation that comes with it. In fact, this time of year is known as the “weight-gain season,” with some of us easily gaining as many as 8 pounds.

The problem is, the weight doesn’t come off quite so easily. In fact, most of us never lose the weight gained during this time of year. And this issue is not exclusive to Americans. Most of the rest of the world gains weight throughout December as well.

So, what can we do to prevent gaining some extra padding through the middle? Is it simply best to just hide for the next month or so and avoid the holidays altogether? Though that may work, it’s not very much fun. With some simple tips, we can enjoy some holiday treats while making healthy choices!

Tips to keep you on track this holiday:

Get enough rest. Research tells us that those who don’t get enough sleep (seven to eight hours) are 7.5 times more likely to be obese, and 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes. Sleeping only five hours increases your risk of heart attack by 45 percent.

Move more. Any movement is better than none. Plan an extra lap around the block. Stand or walk while talking on the phone. Try to be intentional and get some true exercise.

Portion control. I know, not much fun. But it is the backbone of managing weight and health. No food is bad. But too much of it can impact your health (and waistline) negatively. Stop at three bites when sampling rich foods.

No skipping meals. You won’t save any calories and you’ll just be too hungry to care about making good choices. Eat regular meals.

Choose plenty of produce and high-fiber foods. Mother Nature is truly the best culinarian of all. Choose foods in season for the highest nutrition.

Sip on water or other calorie-free beverages. We often confuse thirst for hunger. Water is the best bet of all!

Friends, Family, Thankfulness

Remember, the season is about friends and family. It’s about being thankful for all we have, the freedom that our country has to offer, and the wealth and abundance that surrounds us. Enjoy the traditions that make this season special, but do so in a way that keeps you healthy and vibrant.

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2016-11brennan_holly_rd_ldn-emailHealthy Holiday Eating feature article was written by Holly Brennan, RD LDN. Holly is a Licensed Clinical Nutritionist at Wuesthoff Medical Center – Rockledge, a full service, 298 bed acute care hospital, offering a complete complement of health services and programs. Wuesthoff’s flagship medical center has received numerous awards for its commitment to providing quality patient care and continues to be recognized locally and nationally for clinical excellence.