DOBSON — It seems Santa’s particular brand of holiday magic renders him impervious to calories as he noshes through endless Christmas season treats. Most holiday revelers aren’t so lucky and the season weighs them down. Literally.
“Each year average Americans gain anywhere from two to five pounds over the holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas,” commented North Carolina Extension Agent Carmen Long. “This can have serious impact on your health later. What we are proposing is a simple way to start the New Year off healthier.”
Long says there is still time for join the Maintain Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge. Information on the program can be found at http://www.myeatsmartmovemore.com/HolidayChallenge/index.html. Long explained the effort is not trying to loose weight at this time of year with its rich traditions of cuisine.
“Trying to lose weight during the holidays is just too challenging,” said Long. “Just be smart about your serving sizes and ways to make recipes healthier. The tools on this website don’t require you to attend classes at one certain time of day. You can fit this in to your schedule anytime. The trick is to balance calories going in and out (through exercise).”
Three important tools on the eat smart move more site are a weight log, a food diary and recipes to make holiday foods healthier without ruining their flavor. The site also has a calorie counter and a meal planner function.
“Substitutions at the site will help you adjust recipes so you really can’t tell the difference,” said Long. “I used applesauce as a substitute for sugar in a sweet potato casserole recipe and no one noticed during Thanksgiving. You can still enjoy a product after making it better, healthier. Another recipe uses whole, gelled cranberry sauce for glazed carrots. It’s healthy, tasty and just not the same old thing.”
Other substitutions include using skim milk instead of two-percent milk and using a graham cracker crust instead of a traditional pie crust. Some tips from the website suggest planning meals in advance and making a list for shopping so you aren’t tempted to pile on too many things and will visit the grocery less often. The site also recommends eating together as a family without the television on.
“These are little things that will not make much of a difference. It’s won’t alter grandma’s recipe. It will be a bit healthier,” said Long.
She also suggested those wanting to maintain their weight during the holidays recruit family and friends in small groups to go through the challenge together to make it more fun. Long explained the weight log is used to keep track of how well your are doing as the weeks progress. She said a blog feature has also recently been added.
“This is a good gift you can give yourself,” said Long. “Our health is one of our most precious possessions. This is a wonderful gift we can give ourselves. It’s very easy to sign up on this program with your email. Participants will have to fill out a brief profile and all information is kept confidential.”
Long said physical activity is another important part of meeting the maintain don’t gain challenge.
“It’s a balancing act. We have to be conscious of what we are eating and our physical activities,” added Long. “Exercise has so many other positive benefits. It is important to find something you like to do such as walking. The number one excuse people have for not exercising is they can’t find time. We always find time for something we enjoy doing. If we take advantage all the little bits of time we could be up and moving we could get a lot of physical activity in.”
Information on the website suggests families give moms the gift of fitness this year. Children could make gift certificates for weekly bike rides or daily walks in the neighborhood as gifts. Adults can give a gift of training together for an upcoming event like a walkathon for charity. Different forms of activity can be fun such as Tai Chi, ballroom or belly dancing. The gift could be as simple as volunteering to babysit while mom has some time for herself.
Other healthy movement ideas include parking farther away from stores and walking, choosing stairs instead of elevators or turning on some music and dancing with your children ten minutes a day.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.