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Weight gain doesn’t have to come with the holidays

News Release Distributed 11/18/14

BATON ROUGE, La. – As the sun was setting on Nov. 17 and temperatures were beginning their steady decline on their way to freezing, Anna McEvers set out from the warm confines of a coffee shop with a group of runners. The Varsity Sports running club meets regularly throughout the week in different locations to train together and motivate each other.

The running group is McEvers’ strategy for keeping the pounds off during the holidays.

“I don’t really deny myself the foods I want during the holidays, but I make running a priority to combat weight gain,” she said.

Christy Rogers is using a similar approach of regular runs and workouts and a nothing-off-limits attitude during the holidays – just measured portions.

“I use a smaller plate and take just a little bit,” Rogers said.

LSU AgCenter nutritionist Heli Roy said many people will gain anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds during the holidays. She said fitting in regular exercise and consuming smaller portions are two solutions to battle a holiday bulge.

“It is essential that we remain active,” Roy said. “Physical activity burns off calories, builds lean body mass, which burns more calories and helps our cardiovascular system.”

Roy said there is no reason to forgo holiday favorites. She suggested simply serving smaller portions of rich food and filing up on fresh fruits and vegetables.

She also said recipes can be altered to make a dish lighter or healthier by using less salt and fat.

“With a lot of baked goods, you can cut oil, butter or margarine by a third, and it’s not going to affect the recipe,” Roy said, adding that you can also substitute half of the butter in a baked good with applesauce and achieve healthier, but similar, results.

Roy warned that alcohol consumption can sabotage weight control efforts during the holidays.

“With alcohol it is easy to lose control of what you are eating,” she said.

Heavy holiday drinks can add more calories than you realize. Roy puts eggnog is in the dessert category and said if you drink a glass of eggnog, you’ve had your dessert.

The nutritionist also recommends stepping on the scale regularly to stay on top of weight gain and reverse it if you see it happening.

McEvers said she weighs herself about once a week. She has an 11-month-old child and since giving birth has lost weight, which she plans to keep off with running.

A part of the running club for five years, McEvers now finds it harder to make time to run because of the baby. She said the group keeps her going.

“I feel accountable to them,” she said. “If I am not there, they wonder where I am.”

Both McEvers and Rogers are looking forward to their favorite holidays dishes.

“I have to have pecan pie and my mom’s chicken-and-sausage gumbo,” Rogers said.

“I love anything with sweet potatoes,” McEvers said.

Staying active will allow them to indulge a little without worrying about weight gain.

Tobie Blanchard
Last Updated: 11/19/2014 8:39:12 AM

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