Food for thought during the holidays

Published 8:35 am Friday, November 27, 2015

You don’t have to give up on your health for the holidays.

There is almost no worse feeling than gaining five or more pounds in a few weeks’ time, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The agony of nearly busting through the buttons and the seams of your best jeans can be avoided this holiday season. Here are some ways to avoid weight gain and maybe not lose weight, but maintain your weight and health status (we will work on new health goals come 2016).

First and foremost, choose your foods wisely. It is not uncommon for people to consume 3,000 to 5,000 calories on holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Try not to indulge in every single dish being served at the table. Instead try eliminating foods that don’t seem super appealing at the moment. Ask yourself, “Do I really want that or would I rather indulge in something better?”

Start with small portions of your pickings and savor the flavors and textures as you enjoy your meal. Eat sensible meals leading up to the actual holiday and the following days. Truly be thankful for foods that you’re blessed to be sitting in front of as we can all imagine there are plenty of people that may not have the opportunity to do so.

Even though the local gyms are closed for the day, that doesn’t mean you can’t be active and burn off some of the unwanted calories. Some communities offer running events on these holidays. They are in fact quite popular and getting thousands of runners and walkers on their feet and in the streets for 5Ks, 10Ks and marathons on the morning of a holiday. The Niles-Buchanan YMCA kicked off its 34th annual 10K, 5K walk/run and a one-mile fun run on the morning of Thanksgiving Day that brought in more than 2,000 people.

Here are some other ways to be active without leaving the house or your family.

Get on the floor with the kids of the family and get moving. Simple games like Duck, Duck, Goose or Ring around the Rosie are a couple examples that just might burn away as many calories as that last piece of turkey you dipped into gravy and shoved into your mouth just after complaining on how full you were.

If the weather allows, take a hike. Wherever you are, grab your shoes and invite your family to join you for a walk outside. Crank up some tunes and get everyone up and dancing for a dance off or a fun game of freeze dance.

If you’re one that works out on a regular basis and wants to really burn off the added calories, set aside time for a quick workout. With a meal to prepare, house to clean, other households to visit and errands to run it can be difficult to find time for exercise. Get up extra early and push yourself through a 20- to 30-minute workout providing a high enough intensity to really get the heart pumping and the sweat rolling.

You will feel much, much better about your calorie intake for the day and most likely choose to eat lighter and healthier foods.

Focus on the holiday itself and not so much on the food. At the start of your day set intentions on spending more time with loved ones than in the kitchen or at the dinner table. Encourage conversations away from designated food areas. Celebrate the holiday and build memories that will last a lifetime, unlike the food that will satisfy your taste buds for all of a few minutes or less.

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up over the few extra calories you consumed. Enjoy the holiday with loved ones, even the food that comes with it. In moderation, we can control our health and weight. Tomorrow is a new day with an opportunity to start fresh.

Happy holidays, everyone! May you and your family be blessed and feel the love and holiday spirit.


Lacey Peters is the fitness director at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA, as well as a life coach and overall fitness enthusiast. Above all, she believes in optimal well-being and life balance. She can be reached at