Nutrition experts say there are ways to maintain a healthy weight while celebrating this time of year.
Dietitians said the key to staying fit over the holidays is balancing what you eat with how you work out.
According to the CDC, the average American gains around a pound or two during the holiday season, but nutritionists said over time this can be a cause for concern. They said the pounds can add up after a decade of inactivity.
You might've heard the phrase ‘your eyes are bigger than your stomach.’
"We use it as excuses, you know. We get in our comfy clothes, eat a little bit more but it has a lot of health consequences down the road. Heart health, immune system." said Jacquelynn Rodich, MS, RD, LD. “
Rodich is a dietician and trainer at T-Town South Fitness, who said it's okay to indulge, just in moderation.
“It all comes down to movement and nutrition," Rodich said. “So, really kind of keep it simple over the holidays. Pick one movement goal and one nutrition goal."
Sofia Stasulli is working towards her master's in nutrition and dietetics. Stasulli said the idea of 'saving your calories' for one big meal often leads to binge eating.
"Restricting any kind of food is not something you should do over the holidays,” said Stasulli. “You want to be able to spread your calories throughout the day. If you're starving your body of all those good nutrients that you need, your body is going to want to overcompensate when you get to that meal, and that causes that over-eating which can cause those extra pounds to come on.”
Stasullo suggests, instead, eating a variety of healthy snacks throughout the day.
“Have a vegetable platter. You definitely want to vary your vegetables throughout the holiday season and throughout the year, and maybe even a fruit platter because that's full of fiber, as well,” Stasulli said.
Stasulli also recommends paying attention to and eating whatever is in season.
“The food is going to be cheaper and those nutrients are going to be higher, so it's actually going to be better for your body if you eat within season,” said Stasulli. “So definitely during the winter seasons you have your pomegranates, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes.”
Stasulli practices intuitive eating by using a hunger scale with zero being famished and 10 being stuffed.
"Before you start eating, you want to be around a three or a four, which is either you're starting to be hungry or you're just full hungry,” said Stasulli. “You always want to stop eating when you're at that sixth level, which is I’m full. Six or seven is I'm full or I'm definitely full.”
Stasulli said sleep can really impact someone’s diet.
“You definitely want to get at least those eight hours,” said Stasulli. “It's really hard to do that especially around the holiday season and New Year's, but definitely don't neglect your sleep, because that's giving your body the time to digest all those foods and give you the energy for the next day."
She said hydration prevents your brain from confusing thirst with hunger—that most women should have nine cups and most men should have 11 cups a day.
"If you're having an alcoholic beverage try to add fresh fruit to it, try to go away from the refined or white sugar, and add honey or agave nectar,” Stasulli said.
Research shows a half hour of exercise per day reduces your risk of heart related diseases. Experts recommend even dancing in your kitchen or walking your pet.
“Put on some music and just start dancing, or a lot of video games are dancing games, and that's something I do with my family,” said Stasulli. “As we're cooking, we're dancing. We're getting our movement.”
Fitness Professional Taylor Matheny suggests starting small, whether that’s taking your kids to the park or going for a walk.
“I would say that the number 1 thing that stops people before they even start is going to be the mental side to it,” said Matheny. “If you're thinking you have to start with an hour of cardio, then you're never gonna step on the treadmill.”
She said she likes to tell her clients to start with simply 10 minutes.
“Mentally, you think you can get on doing 10 minutes, and once you’ve done 10 now, you’re in the zone, you’re warmed up and you’re like, ‘I can do 15,’ so you stick with it,” Matheny said.
She said you don’t want to start a goal so high you know you can’t achieve it, and this applies to dieting, as well.
“If you’re thinking you have to cut out alcohol, no sugar, no carbs, then you’re never even going to start because that doesn’t sound fun at all,” Matheny said.
Matheny said you can take it one meal at a time. She said you’ll get to the point where you start to enjoy leading this healthier lifestyle. Matheny understands that beginners may feel lost or intimidated in the gym, but she said everyone starts somewhere.
“Start with just three sets of 10 of just whatever you’re going to do, because we can all get to 10 with or without stopping," said Matheny. “Maybe just starting with two exercises per body part, right? So, we’re thinking upper body is going to be some arms and some shoulders.”
She said it starts with waking up and setting a goal for yourself to get healthier overall and be healthier for your family. She said what’s 30 minutes out of a 24-hour day, when she said it could benefit the rest of your life. Matheny told News On 6 she’s seen people go from dreading the days they must work out to dreading the days they don’t have time to fit a workout in their schedule.
Rodich said it’s great not only for your physical health, but your mental well-being, too.
"It gets those endorphins going and is like taking a happy pill,” Rodich said.
For more information about T-Town South Fitness, visit the website here.
For more information about Fitness Coach Taylor Matheny, visit the website here.