Holiday Calorie Control

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These five weight control strategies will keep your clients in check and feeling good about themselves during the holiday season.

1. Keep a weight journal

Have participants write down their weight now. They should record the time of day and what clothes they are wearing. During the holidays, it helps to be aware of how much you weigh each week so you can keep track and make adjustments before the problem gets out of hand.

2. 500 calories per week

Participants in the holiday weight gain study, mentioned in the introduction of this leader guide, gained almost 1 pound over the 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This represents an “energy deficit” of almost 500 calories per week. This means that subjects ate 500 more calories per week than they expended. This really is not a lot for each day but shows how a little too much food and inactivity can add up over time. Show both ways to create a deficit of 500 calories per week – by eating less and by working out more. Here are a few easy examples that save 100 calories or more:

• switch to diet soda

• consume water instead of sweetened beverages

• use vinegar instead of salad dressing

• eat fruit instead of cookies

• choose vegetables instead of chips

• choose light yogurt instead of regular yogurt

• choose smaller sizes for fast food meals and order soup and salad instead of entrées

3. Ways to be more active

Researchers in the holiday weight study noted that when subjects reported they were more active than the last visit, they were less likely to gain weight. Have participants list how they can be more active now. Are there community activities they can participate in? It helps if you can bring a list of these – take a look at the community event calendar and on for ideas near you. Have the class brainstorm 20 ways to be more active: clean your own house, spend time walking instead of baking, walk the mall, join an exercise class, watch an exercise video (yoga is great), hire a personal trainer, sign up for a marathon or 5K, participate in a fitness walk, volunteer in a homeless shelter, spend more time working in your own kitchen (sans too much sampling!), go for a walk at lunch, etc.

It might also be fun to have a guest personal trainer for 15 minutes to show resistance exercises that can be done at home.

4. Ways to feel less hungry

Participants in the study who reported being less hungry during the holiday season had a better chance of controlling their weight. Have the class brainstorm ways to feel less hungry:

1. Be active – if you are busy and not sitting around, you will have less time for food

2. Eat more fiber and less fat – this way you will fill up on fewer calories. One study showed that eating a low-fat salad before a meal helped participants eat fewer calories at that meal.

3. Eat a good breakfast – this will help you control your calorie intake and hunger throughout the day.

4. Eat 5 a day or more – filling up on plenty of fruits and vegetables will help curb hunger and calorie intake.

Have class members share their healthful snacking and eating ideas while at work. It might be fun to show how to make a microwave office meal with a baked potato or can of soup and a salad brought from home.

5. Local menus made healthful

Bring in some local popular restaurant menus and show participants how to make better choices when they eat out. It might help to include some fast food places, too. You can also pass these out and have participants guess what to order. It is even fun to look up the calories on meals that sound healthful but are high in fat (Chicken Caesar) and calories or too large in size.

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