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Simple eating choices and behaviors help keep your holidays happy and healthy

Thursday, November 14, 2013

University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center experts offer easy tips to avoid seasonal weight gain

Beachwood, Ohio – Each year many Northeast Ohioans struggle with their weight during the holiday season. “The average person gains three pounds during the holidays,” says Roy Buchinsky, MD, Director of Wellness, University Hospitals (UH). “A few practical tips can help you avoid a food frenzy and the associated weight gain.”

Good holiday eating habits encompass the types of food you eat, as well as behaviors that can impact quantity. “Eat only when eating is your primary activity,” says Dr. Buchinsky, who oversees the wellness programs at UH Ahuja Medical Center. “Don’t eat excessively during activities like watching TV, playing cards or surfing the Web. Eat slowly and put your fork down after each mouthful of food.”

“Always eat breakfast, one that includes protein to stave off hunger,” says Barbara Klick, RD, MPH, registered dietitian and Program Manager, Bariatric Surgery, University Hospitals. “If you’re going shopping, eat a healthy meal before you go so you’ll be less tempted to buy junk food.”

Eating a variety of foods is key to maintaining your ideal weight during the season. “Mixed greens are loaded with nutrients,” says Dr. Buchinsky. “Vegetables in a kaleidoscope of colors are a delicious, nutritious accompaniment to a piece of white, skinless turkey or other lean protein.” Dr. Buchinsky also recommends whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. It’s also acceptable to save some room for a slice of pie, but avoid a second helping.

Beverage choices are another part of any holiday nutrition plan. “Liquid calories add up quickly, so drink water with fresh lemon, lime or orange slices,” says Dr. Buchinsky. “The holiday season is a time of celebration, so add some heart-healthy red wine but remember the rule: Five ounces for women and 10 ounces for men.”

Dr. Buchinsky stresses that what is at the end of your fork is more beneficial than what is at the bottom of a medicine bottle. Healthy food choices and physical activity are easily accessible during the holiday period. By eating sensibly and mindfully during the holidays, you can avoid tipping the scale while still celebrating in style.

“It takes an additional 500 calories per day above your normal maintenance consumption to gain one pound per week,” says Klick. “It comes down to being consistent about choosing what you’re going to eat and not going to eat … every single day.”

For details about the wellness program offered by UH Ahuja Medical Center including a calendar of classes and community events, visit www.uhahuja.org/wellness.

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