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5 Eating Tips for Holiday Weight Management

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The holidays and eating good food will happen. With a little planning, you can make it through the "food minefield" until January. You can enjoy plenty of good food and still maintain your pre-holiday weight.

Don't let a good year of workouts "go to pot" during this long holiday stretch! You can easily put on 20-30 pounds if you're not careful. Or, you can maintain that hard, lean body you’ve worked so hard to build!

So, here are the five eating tips to live by:

Tip #1 – Drink Plenty of Water

Somehow, its not easy to drink enough water every day. Drinking water can help you eat less.

According to a Mayo Clinic article, “Water: How much should you drink every day?”:

1. A large part of your body is water (60 percent).
2. All your body’s systems depend on water and lack of it leads to dehydration.
3. It flushes out toxins and carries nutrients to your cells.
4. The Institute of Medicine advises men to drink about 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women about 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

I recommend that you drink at least half the number of pounds you weigh in ounces every day. So, if you weigh 140 pounds, drink about 70 ounces of water every day. This formula takes into account your body weight. And, if you exercise, drink about a cup of water every 15-20 minutes of exercise time.

Remember, certain foods contain large amounts of water. This counts toward your water intake. For instance watermelon is about 90 percent water, lettuce has about 95 percent and some meats contain as much as 70 percent.

Tip #2 – Don’t Hide Your Regular Meal Plan

Even during the holidays, try to comply with your meal plan 90 percent of the time. This leaves plenty of room to enjoy the holiday goodies. Also, your food journal really comes in handy during the holiday season. Tracking what you eat holds you accountable.

At parties, get full on protein foods first. It will help you eat less of the condiments, desserts and other high-fat foods. Most holiday parties have plenty of foods loaded with protein. Nuts, ham, turkey, chicken, fish, etc. are great foods to eat.

Protein helps control your blood sugar if you happen to eat carbohydrates. Protein also fills you up and leaves you satisfied on fewer calories.

Also, eat one serving of food on a plate. Avoid grazing (unless its at the vegetable/fruit tray). Eating haphazardly at a party will put tons of calories in your belly.

Tip #3 – Eat Your Calories

Drinking sugary drinks can really pack on the pounds quickly. Drink water and unsweetened drinks like tea.

Chew your food slower. One quick way to "blow a hole" through your meal plan is to drink too many empty calories contained in drinks like sodas, sugared fruit juices and designer coffees. These are empty calories because they do very little to keep you full (satiety) and you end up wanting and eating more very soon!

Tip #4 – Watch Your Alcohol Consumption

First, one gram of alcohol provides 7 calories. Only fat (9 cal/g) provides more calories than alcohol. So, when you are planning your food and drink consumption, don't forget the calories from alcohol.

According to an article by The University of Rochester’s University Health Service, Health Promotion Office, “Caloric Values of Alcoholic Beverages,” your body reacts to alcohol differently. When you take a drink of alcohol, your body converts a small amount of it into fat and the rest is converted (by the liver) into a substance called acetate.

This acetate is then released into the bloodstream and used as the body's main source of energy. So, your body is using the acetate for energy instead of the stored fat in your body. The more you drink, the more fat your body will store (many times belly fat)!

Tip #5 – Exercise More If You Eat More

I use this trick and it works. If I eat more calories than usual, I will burn more calories during my workout. I usually do this by adding an extra 20-minute interval cardio sprinting session. It always works to burn the extra calories.

We will all eat more food than usual on more than one occasion during the long holiday season. Just exercise a little more. Staying active with walking, biking, etc. also helps to burn the calories.

Enjoy the holidays! Your life is not composed of a weight loss diet. Health, fat loss and weight maintenance is the goal. One goal I have for the holiday season is to not gain weight. I enjoy plenty of good holiday food and continue to do my workouts. I hope you do the same.


Mayo Clinic article, “Water: How much should you drink every day?”

University of Rochester’s University Health Service, Health Promotion Office, Article, “Caloric Values of Alcoholic Beverages”

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES, CPT is a Certified Personal Trainer and former NCAA Division I athlete. Mark is the owner of My Fitness Hut, Her Fitness Hut and Sports Fitness Hut.

Mark’s Fat Blaster Athletic Training System has been proven to give his clients the fit, sculpted and athletic-type bodies they want. Visit Mark’s main site:

Your Fitness University http://yourfitnessuniversity.com

Reviewed November 18, 2011
by MIchele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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