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Fight holiday weight gain: Tips from Dr. Dean Ornish

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Dr. Dean Ornish' tips for avoiding holiday weight gain

Dr. Dean Ornish has some easy tips to help fight holiday weight gain. Statistics show most midlife weight gain comes from overeating at the holidays. Making healthy food choices throughout the holidays doesn’t have to be hard, but it does mean remaining aware of triggers that can lead to overeating.

Eat something before you go to a holiday party

One of the first things to fight holiday weight gain is eat before you get where you’re going. Otherwise, you’re likely to eat anything in sight when you arrive.

Go to the party a little late

Being ‘fashionably’ late for a holiday gathering means more of the indulgent food will be gone.

Pay attention to visual cues

Eating less at the holidays is harder when you’re handed or choose a bigger plate. Studies have shown weight loss efforts are more successful when we make small changes to our environment. A big plate is simply a visual cue to eat more. Place just two or three foods on your plate and try to serve yourself.

Put more fruits and vegetables on your plate. Dr. Ornish suggests if you add 20 percent more low calorie foods than high calorie you probably won’t notice the difference. Don’t put more than Then, eat the healthier foods first so you won’t overindulge in high calorie foods.

Choose food that leaves evidence on your plate. Examples include shrimp tails and chicken wing bones.

Don’t drink too much alcohol

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Too many mixed drinks, beer or wine can slow metabolism and impair judgment. Try to go easy on the alcohol so you can maintain control of your food intake – drinking too much impairs judgment.

Skip the high calorie toppings

If possible, Ornish advises skipping the gravy and substitute for cranberry sauce that’s lower in calories and high in antioxidants. For potato toppings choose low-fat yogurt and non-fat sour cream in lieu of butter, cheese, bacon or sour cream.

Eat slowly and savor each bite

Eat slowly and savor your holiday meals. According to Dr. Ornish, “The faster we eat, the more we eat. Sip water between bites. Holiday meals last longer than typical meals. If you wolf down your food, your plate may be clean while others are still eating, which will lead to seconds.”

Eating slowly leads to more satisfaction with food. Savoring each bite can help us eat less to avoid holiday weight gain.

What about dessert?

There’s no need to avoid holiday desserts altogether, but instead of eating an entire serving, just take one or two bites. Dr. Ornish reminds us “the first and last bites are always the best, anyway.”

Stay active
Avoid holiday weight gain by staying active. Even a stroll around the block helps burn calories, aids digestion and prevents bloating.

You can get more diet tips to from Dr. Ornish here.

Image credit: Morguefile



Going to the party late was the most surprising tip for me to manage holiday weight gain. What are your's?
I agree, going to party late is probably the most practical, but not sure how much of a good idea is to be late. The other tips, while right and great, are hard to keep. It's hard to indulge when there are so many great dishes on the table. I also liked the idea of eating something before going to a party. That one I really liked.
I'm guilty of not eating first, being ravenous, late and then having alcohol. I need to pay attention to many of these.
I do think eating healthy foods first will fill you up so you don't eat as many high calorie foods. I did like the point that the first and last bite of dessert tastes best, so just take two - clever