If you’ve been treating your body nice so far this holiday season by making healthy food choices, you can be naughty for at least one day.
But Mass General Brigham dietitian Abeer Bader said it’s important to plan ahead before you overindulge.
Instead of saving up for that tasty filet mignon at Christmas dinner by sacrificing meals earlier in the day, eat a solid breakfast and lunch beforehand. That will keep you from overeating at dinner, Bader said.
“Enjoy the foods you like,” she said. “If you really want to have that extra mashed potato or pecan pie, go for it because one day isn’t going to really deter your efforts or health goals. It’s about the consistency of what you’re doing for the whole year.”
The holidays can be stressful for those looking to maintain or lose weight, factor in the wintry weather forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, people can face even more challenges.
It’s important to take a “holistic look” at managing your weight by considering genetics, ways to be active, food choices, stressors and sleep habits, Bader said. She said people should have an open mind and a goal oriented plan that can be restructured.
After a warm, wet and windy Friday, temperatures plummeted as the day wore on and during the overnight hours. The wind chill is expected to be as low as -1 Saturday and cold temperatures are also in the forecast for Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
Because of the weather, people may need to consider alternatives for exercise than going outside for a walk or run. Bader suggested putting on Youtube videos of exercise classes, getting up and walking around 5 to 10 minutes every hour, or walking up and down stairs.
“Let’s say you enjoy watching TV, an activity could be every time there’s an ad or between an episode, you get up and do a series of exercises,” she said.
If you don’t mind the cold weather, Bader encourages you to go outdoors for a breath of fresh air while being safe.
Mass General Brigham is seeing an increase in obesity and people being overweight, Bader said.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated weight gain due to lockdowns, people trying to stay home as much as possible, working and shopping remotely. Stress levels also spiked, influencing people’s weight to increase as many often turn to comfort food as a coping mechanism.
Despite weight gaining across the Bay State, the percentage of Massachusetts adults that have a body mass index greater than or equal to 30 – 25% – is well below the national average of 32%, according to County Health Rankings.
“Regardless of the pandemic or not, obesity rates are still rising,” Bader said. “We are seeing more of it in kids and that could be due to accessibility to food as well as the school closures. It’s a highly prevalent disease.”