Published: Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
Many people will start 2013 vowing to be healthier, taking on weight-loss goals and new exercise routines.
But in south Louisiana this can sometimes be a tricky prospect as the holiday season can stretch well into February with Mardi Gras to celebrate.
How do you make your new year of dieting and exercise a success?
Local dieticians said the best key is to set realistic goals.
Jamie Luke, a Morrison Health Care dietician at Terrebonne General Medical Center in Houma, said you probably shouldnt plan on starting a diet during the holiday season. Instead focus on trying to maintain your weight.
Research shows the average American gains about 1 pound over the course of the holiday season. But since we add Mardi Gras into the mix in Louisiana, adding a month or two more of parties and king cake, its safer to assume a gain of 2 pounds.
That may not seem like a lot, but most people dont lose those holiday pounds. That can add up to a gain of 10 to 20 pounds over a decade.
There are a couple of tricks to manage your weight during the holidays.
Luke suggested families plan diversions besides a big holiday meal. Take a walk or a bike ride together. Short, 15-minute walks twice a day can be easier to integrate into a busy holiday schedule. Talk a family member into taking a quick walk around the neighborhood after a meal.
Instead of baking cookies to decorate together, take on non-edible projects like making wreaths or ornaments.
In addition, dont skip meals to make up for a large meal later in the day, Luke said. Youre more likely to overeat, especially if you skip breakfast.
A balanced breakfast serves the dual purpose of filling you up with healthy energy and will also kick start your metabolism, said Eric Sedotal a Morrison Health Care dietician at Terrebonne General Medical Center.
In addition, drinking a glass of water can help cut off hunger pangs. Often when we feel hungry, we are actually dehydrated. Start with a full glass of water before you head for a snack.
Luke also warned not to drink your calories. Alcoholic beverages, a common indulgence during Christmas, New Years and Mardi Gras, can pack in a lot of calories. A glass of beer, punch or eggnog might be 200 to 500 calories per glass. Stick to sparkling water, diet soda or even red wine.
Finally, you can reach for your holiday favorites, but remember to practice portion control. Add more vegetables on your plate than anything else, and limit your carbohydrates such as bread and high-fat items like cheese, fried foods and desserts.
Dont overindulge on one food because you like it. But if there is a treat that only comes around during the holiday season, dont deny yourself. Take a small slice and enjoy.
Sedotal said a lot of people approach dieticians during the holidays for advice about setting New Years goals.
His primary advice is to be realistic with your expectations.
Dont tell yourself that youll lose 50 pounds in three weeks, Sedotal said. First of all, thats unhealthy, and people that lose weight quickly tend to put it back on.
Strive for a diet and nutrition routine you can manage over the long term.
Set realistic goals like running every weekday or only eating dessert on Fridays. These small steps will eventually add up, and accomplishing goals will motivate you.
Track your progress not by what the scale says, but by how you look and feel, Sedotal said.
And try to make changes in your lifestyle slowly so that theyll stick, like cutting out high-fat items you love slowly over time.
Staff Writer Nikki Buskey can be reached at 857-2205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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