Nutrition tips – Nutrition During the Off Season and Holidays
I work as a dietitian with the Polk County School Board Employee Wellness Program and this year we are challenging the employees to maintain their weight over the holidays. We sent out flyers with this picture of 5lbs of fat, encouraging them to not let this be their Christmas gift. I attached the photo to this article to perhaps motivate you to not gain weight during the holidays and the off-season.
But don’t worry. With a survival guide and a plan of action you don’t have to skip the traditions and feasts of this time in order to remain at a competing weight.
MAINTAIN CALORIC BALANCE: Eat more nutrient dense foods
Even if you are continuing a strength training regimen, cut out the use of sports nutrition energy bars, drinks and gels, which are formulated for endurance (such as Endurox, Accelerade, Gu, etc). Be aware of caloric dense foods versus nutrient dense foods. In place of the bars, opt for fruits, vegetables and whole grains which are more nutrient dense as opposed to calorie dense bars and gels. Dense carbs that were important for glycogen restoration, such as power bagels, can be replaced with lighter, lower calorie whole grain breads, such as whole wheat English muffins or bread.
STROKE YOUR METABOLISM: Eat often.
Metabolism is raised when you eat every 2 to 3 hours. Keep up with this philosophy even through the season. Do not save calories for a big festive meal. Have a snack such as an apple or a light meal such as a salad or soup before facing a huge buffet.
Eating every few hours also means keeping portion size appropriate. You may have gotten used to eating larger portion sizes while training and old habits die hard. Remember, ½ cup cooked pasta, rice or potatoes is a realistic serving size for weight maintenance, whereas these portions may seem extremely tiny when you are faced with festive meals. Eat more fruits and vegetables (nutrient dense foods) to make up the difference.
MODERATION IS THE KEY: Balance your plate.
Moderation and consideration are the keys to enjoying any holiday dinner, and you shouldn't feel as though you have to deny yourself your favorite foods this year. Just watch what goes on your plate, and how it is cooked. Turkey, for example, is low in fat and high in protein. White meat eaten without the skin provides a healthy delicious base for a holiday meal. Add some steamed vegetables and a small of sweet potato with a dash of cinnamon, and you have quite the feast. Of course, don't deny yourself a sliver of pie, but be prepared to burn off those calories.