The holiday season is upon us, and as we know those calories never take time off.
There are so many tasks to complete during the holiday season, and with our busy schedules, many of us find it hard to count calories during this time. Whether it is shopping for that perfect present, preparing that holiday menu, or completing your list for those New Year’s resolutions, counting calories is far from the top of that list.
We all have holiday memories that are near and dear to our hearts, and these memories include special foods, with recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Most of those holiday recipes are far from being calorie conscious. I know for a fact that my mother’s red velvet cake and my uncle’s famous candied yams (which are sure hits at every holiday occasion) are not on the radar of calorie conscious. Therefore, eating these foods in moderation is the key to maintaining a healthy weight.
We must admit that our eating habits change during the holiday season. Unhealthy eating and inactivity are common during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. The average holiday gain for Americans is one to five pounds. Although this weight gain may not seem significant, too often the weight is not lost and accumulates each year, which can lead to long-term health implications.
I know what you are thinking: “This is not the time to be thinking about weight loss. ‘Holiday season’ and ‘weight loss’ should not even be in the same sentence!” I get it; perhaps weight maintenance may be a better goal. Maintaining weight over the holidays may be a positive measure of success.
In collaboration with many organizations through the Eat Smart, Move More initiative, the North Carolina Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program aims to reduce the rising tide of obesity by teaching youth and families practical skills, resulting in changed behaviors, that help them to eat smart, move more, and achieve a healthy weight.
What is your holiday challenge? Will it be a challenge of selecting the healthiest foods at all the holiday events you will be attending? Will the challenge be finding the healthiest recipe to prepare for your festive meal? Whatever the challenge, know that there are simple ways to help you survive this holiday season.
One way is “The Holiday Challenge.” This is a free weight maintenance program offered from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. You are invited to join the 11th annual Eat Smart, Move More, Maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge at https://esmmweighless.com/holiday-challenge-live/. Rather than focusing on trying to lose weight, this free, seven-week challenge provides participants with tips, tricks, and ideas to help maintain their weight throughout the holiday season.
If you will be taking the Holiday Challenge, don’t be afraid of the holidays! You have challenged yourself to “maintain and not gain” by eating smart, moving more, and being mindful of your choices.
Teresa Bethea is the Extension Adult Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program assistant for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center.