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November 5, 2010 > Worried About Gaining Weight Over the Holidays?

Worried About Gaining Weight Over the Holidays?

Washington Hospital Lunch and Learn Offers Tips for Avoiding Extra Pounds

Is weight gain is the one gift you don't want this holiday season? Avoiding those extra pounds can be difficult with all the holiday parties and festive celebrations that feature fattening foods and high-calorie drinks. But there are ways to enjoy the holidays - and some special treats - without packing on the pounds.

"Managing your weight isn't just about what you eat, it's also about the calories you expend," said Kathy Hesser, RN, an exercise specialist and coordinator of the Washington Women's Center. "The holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends, and you can do that and still maintain your weight."

She will offer strategies for staying on track with exercise routines during the holidays at an upcoming Lunch and Learn session sponsored by the Washington Women's Center. She will be joined by Anna Mazzei, a registered dietitian at Washington Hospital, who will talk about making healthy holiday food choices.

"How to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holiday Season" is scheduled from Noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16, at the Washington Women's Center, located inside Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. You can register online at or call (800) 963-7070 for more information.

"The holidays are a busy time, so you may not feel like you have time to exercise," Hesser said. "But it's important to fit it into your busy schedule."

She said women should exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. She suggested breaking it up during the busy holiday season.

"Try fitting in 10 minutes of exercise early in the morning, before you start your day," she said. "Maybe you can take a quick walk before dinner while something is cooking."

Controlling what you eat is the other key ingredient to making it through the holidays without gaining weight.

Bring Healthy Food

"A great way to make sure there are things for you to eat and drink at a holiday party that won't derail your weight-management plans is to bring your own food and beverages," Hesser said. "That way, you won't be tempted to go overboard."

She suggested taking vegetable trays and other healthy dishes instead of some of the traditional high-fat foods. Participants will learn ways to reduce the fat and calories in holiday treats and make them healthier. For example, one way to cut fat and calories is by substituting yogurt or applesauce for butter or oil in some recipes, she said.

"Using whole wheat flour or adding oatmeal and dried fruit can make baked goods healthier," she added. "Whole wheat flour works especially well in bar cookies."

Hesser said it's also important to control the amount you eat. "You can indulge in your favorite foods, just don't eat as much of them. Eat smaller portions. Share a dessert with your spouse or a friend instead of eating the whole piece yourself. Try to get enjoyment out of each bite, rather than feeling like you have to stuff yourself to be satisfied," she said.

Another tip is to avoid alcohol and other high-calorie beverages. She suggested drinking chilled soda water and adding a lime or strawberry to the glass, making it more festive.

"It's also important to remember that socializing is a big part of the holidays," Hesser said. "So when you are at holiday gatherings, focus on the people rather than the food. Sit or stand as far away from the food as possible and engage in a good conversation. That way, you won't be thinking so much about eating."

For information about other programs and services offered by the Washington Women's Center, visit

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