The holidays are upon us. A time for friends, family and food, they should be a time of celebration, but only to a point.
ABC News recently reported that the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. That’s a lot of turkey no matter how it is sliced, which can lead to health complications later.
Registered dietitian Stephanie Hanning, MS, RD, said that one day of consuming more calories than is required is not in and of itself a problem; the problem is that for many over eating becomes a norm during the holiday season.
“I don’t recommend overeating at any time,” Hanning said. “But one day of indulging in your favorites typically won’t cause an individual to put on a lot of extra weight.
“What causes the weight gain is when people consume more than the required amount of food for multiple days, especially during the holidays when many foods are rich in calories,” Hanning added. “What I recommend is to consider making choices when selecting what to eat.”
Hanning said that it is better to eat the food that is important to the individual.
“Just because there are three types of pies on the table, doesn’t mean you have to eat a piece of each one,” Hanning said. “Instead chose the one that you really like the most and only have that one piece.
“I know that can be really hard; it is for everyone, but those choices can make a big difference in the person’s overall health,” she added. “It’s better to be aware and pay attention to what you are consuming instead of making a lot of poor food choices.”
Although there are several variables to the number of calories that should be consumed on a daily basis, for the average adult the number is 1,600 to 2,000 a day.
There are several tips that Hannning recommends keeping control of the calories consumed each day.
•Consider portion sizes of foods.
•Eat only when hungry and consider the reasons for eating.
•Keep a supply of healthy foods on hand to consume when hunger strikes
•Drink water between each bite of food and drink water frequently throughout the day.
Hanning also suggests limiting the amount of alcoholic that is consumed.
“A lot of times when people over-drink their inhibitions become lowered,” Hanning said. “It’s easier to make poor food choices and over eat when you have had too much to drink.
“One of the best tips I can give anyone is to take preventative measures to watch what is happening with the person’s eating habits over the holidays.” Hanning said. “It’s is so much easier to fix something that isn’t already broken.”
Hanning suggests sticking to an exercise plan and if one is not in place to start one.
As for New Year’s resolutions to lose weight Hanning stated that for those to be successful the goals have to be measurable and specific.
“You can’t just say I’m going to the gym,” Hanning said. “Instead the goals should be smaller and have some way to measure them.”
Hanning suggests something as simple as walking a set amount of time each day, or for a specific distance each day.
“Once they become a habit, they become the new normal,” Hanning said. “It is so much easier to maintain your weight if exercise and careful attention to your weight are what you do on a daily basis.”
As the community outreach coordinator for Bothwell Regional Health Center and a coach for the Healthy U Program Hanning works to help individuals establish those habits daily.
“What I really want is for the community to be healthy,” Hanning added.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484