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Beat the 'holiday bulge' by making smart nutritional decisions

Author: (ARA)

(ARA) - The holiday temptations of hot chocolate, savory turkey, warm pumpkin pie and other enticing treats can launch you into the seasonal spirit. But they can also make your New Year's getting-in-shape resolutions harder to achieve. This year, get ahead of the "holiday bulge" by making smart, healthy and nutritional decisions.

Fitness and weight-loss expert for, Dr. Martica Heaner knows how hard it can be to lose weight after the holiday season.

"If you tend to struggle with your weight, or have recently lost it, research shows that you may be more vulnerable to hard-to-lose weight gain over the holidays," says Dr. Heaner, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist. She admits that it may be unrealistic to try to lose weight during peak feasting and party months. A better strategy: try not to gain.

"The secret to staying weight-stable over the season is to employ weight-management strategies to keep excess calories from holiday feasts and parties in check," she says. "To do so you need to identify resources that will help you."

Heaner shares some nutrition tips for making smart, healthy diet and exercise choices:

* Sweat it out. If you are going to be eating more over the season, you must exercise more - no ifs, ands or buts. Sure, parties will crowd out your schedule, but find a way to fit in extra walking and extra workouts or make sure to dance at every party you attend. Plan an extra activity in your day, even if it's simply dancing to two songs on the radio before and after your brush your teeth.

* Weigh every day. Some people advise against focusing on scale numbers. But keeping tabs on your normal weight range will help you spot when your body weight creeps higher. If you catch yourself at a couple of pounds heavier than normal, you can modify your behaviors much more easily than if you let yourself go for several months and suddenly find that you've gained 10 or 20 pounds.

* Plan for parties. One thing is certain, if you go out, you will be tempted. Chances are you will succumb to cocktails, cookies and second helpings of holiday foods. Control those calories by visiting the buffet table only once and socialize away from it. If hors d'oeuvres are being passed around, stick to three or four max, or make it a habit to turn down every other offering.

* Use online resources. Many Web sites offer in-depth nutritional and exercise information that can help you learn more about the foods you eat and show you how to optimize your workouts. One online resource is, Microsoft's new decision engine, which helps you find nutrition information faster with its presentation of health results powered by Wolfram | Alpha. You can get the nutritional info you need on holiday treats when you search specific foods at Bing. For example, a quick search on Bing will reveal that the better calorie choice is to eat pumpkin over pecan pie.

* Stick to a pre-set calorie quota. Each morning, decide how many calories you will eat for the day. Then count calories by keeping a running record on your smart phone or notebook. If you'll be at a party later where you will likely eat extra calories, commit to sticking to small portions - and therefore fewer calories -  during earlier meals that day.

* Cut back on alcohol. If sumptuous feasts and holiday treats are already adding several hundred extra calories to your day, consider limiting the alcohol calories you consume. Even the lowest-calorie drink contains at least 100 to 200 calories, and the more delicious, the more fattening (spiked eggnog and fruity frozen concoctions can contain 300 to 500 calories each serving).

Log on to to beat the bulge. You'll learn more about what you're eating and you will find it easier to stay healthy this holiday season. "Using Bing is like having a personal nutritionist at your fingertips," says Dr. Heaner.

Date Added: 12/3/2009