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'Tis the season to indulge: Tips for maintaining, not gaining weight

12/14/2015 by Rose Prissel, RDN, LD


'Tis the season of temptations, of not getting enough sleep, of increased stress, too many social activities, not enough time, and frequently, the season of loneliness. All of which can "gift" you with extra pounds. So what can you do to maintain, but not gain weight? 

The problem: Sleep. Get your ZZZs so you can start the day renewed and refreshed. Recent studies show we eat more calories after a short night's sleep by choosing higher-calorie foods. We also are less likely to work out. If that's not enough, a lack of sleep may impair your memory, weaken your immune system and increase your perception of pain. 

The fix: Exercise to help you relax, burn calories and provide a deeper, more restful sleep. Avoid over indulging or drinking caffeinated or alcohol beverages before going to sleep. Stay hydrated with water; make it festive by choosing sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime. 

The problem: Stress. For some of us, stress can make it harder to eat healthy. It's also been shown that when we're stressed, we may eat higher-calorie foods. 

The fix: Watch for the first signs that you're stressed, and take a moment to breathe deeply and calmly. If you can, get a work out in. Fit in a work out. Remember to be thankful for what we have, enjoy and savor the moment and give to others in need. These acts of gratitude and kindness will reduce your stress. 

The problems: Distractions and emotions. Ever find yourself at a holiday gathering eating as you socialize, then not even knowing what you ate? Or do you tend to eat when you're stressed or sad or lonely?

The fix: Try practicing mindfulness to increase your enjoyment of the food you eat. Be thankful for the food, be thoughtful of what you choose, then appreciate the texture, taste and flavor. If you're an emotional eater, ask yourself if you're physically hungry. If not, distract yourself by calling a friend, going for a walk, wrapping a gift, drinking a glass or water. 

Rose Prissel is a dietitian at Mayo Clinic working in pediatric and adult nutrition, with a focus on preventive care, sports nutrition and weight management.