The cookie tin has only a few crumbs left. The eggnog carton is empty. Uncle Ed polished off the last piece of fudge. And everyone is feeling stuffed.
If this sounds familiar, it might be time for redemption.
According to Sharon Jacob, clinical dietitian at St. Francis Medical Center, “the average weight gain is about five pounds over the holidays and, unfortunately, most people do not lose that weight. They just keep adding to it over the next year.”
It’s easy enough to make a New Year’s resolution in January, but harder to stick with that pledge as the year progresses.
Meredy Brownstein, a local leader for Weight Watchers, could be a poster child for making a decision to eat better and improve health.
“In February, I will celebrate eight years of goal weight, having lost 135 pounds,” she said.
It wasn’t easy for the 5-foot-something to lose essentially the equivalent of another person. “It took just under 16 months,” Brownstein said. “I very much enjoy the changes that came as a result of my weight loss.”
For the “January Joiners” who will jump on the weight-loss bandwagon, she offers a few suggestions for sticking with a plan:
• Be aware of portion sizes. Know where to find portion information. Start by looking on the food labels. Embrace kitchen measuring tools to manage portions at home. Practicing portion control does not have to be an exact science. Using visual cues and comparisons — such as a deck of cards is about the size of a 3-ounce piece of meat and a tennis ball equals about a cup of vegetables — can make dining out simpler. Portion practice certainly helps us to adjust our portion expectations.
• Avoid deprivation. Eat the foods you enjoy, like a small portion of chocolate, and avoid eating foods you detest.
• Accept that not all days will be filled with perfect choices. Plan for those days and how you will get back on track when they happen. Have a plan for the day you don’t want to cook or don’t want to pack your lunch or don’t want to go to the gym. Remember, it’s a natural part of the process for those things to happen. Plan in advance how to get back on track.
Jacob recommends taking part in the Healthy Life Weigh, a program at St. Francis Medical Center and Penrose Main that kicks off Monday. It’s a 10-week workshop designed to empower people to gain control of their weight through healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle behaviors. Here are a few of tips from the class:
• Eat breakfast. We have all heard this, but a large majority of Americans skip this important meal. When it comes to weight loss and maintaining weight, 78 percent of those involved in the National Weight Control Registry (made up of people who successfully have maintained weight loss) eat breakfast every day. Regular breakfast eaters make healthier choices and end up eating fewer calories during the rest of the day.
• Eat more beans and lentils. Eating beans and lentils at least three to four times a week will increase your soluble fiber intake and feeling of fullness. The soluble fiber will then help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol as well as help prevent some forms of cancer.
• Think before you drink. The average American consumes 400 calories per day from sugary drinks. Unfortunately, these calories do not register on our “fullness” scale; they simply are in addition to our meals and lead to unwanted pounds. Swap out sodas, juices and sports drinks for seltzer water and lime or cucumber for a quick refresher.
Mary Peet, a local freelance dietitian, recommends doing the following so you can eat “for the health of it”:
• Make a plan, write it down and track progress. There’s something about seeing it in writing that helps us follow through.
• Set a realistic goal. For instance, “I will eat two servings of fruit daily,” and then keep track of how you’re doing on a calendar or a smartphone app.
• Keep food records. Most people eat less when they keep a record of what they eat. Record food before eating, so you have a chance to decide if you really want the food or if you’d rather make a healthier choice. There are free apps that make keeping food records convenient (and more fun).
At Whole Foods Market, you can tap into a wealth of healthy eating opportunities, such as the company’s “Health Starts Here — 28 Day Challenge,” which takes place in January. The challenge is based on the store’s four pillars of healthy eating: Eat whole, unprocessed foods; eat a colorful variety of plants; eat foods rich in micronutrients; and get fats from whole plant sources. During the challenge, you get free weekly menu plans, cooking tips and videos, and a four-week newsletter series designed to support you as you travel the path to better health. Visit facebook .com/WholeFoodsCoSprings to learn more about the challenge.
Cindy Harrell, leader for the local challenge and healthy eating specialist at Whole Foods Market-Pikes Peak, offers a few tips for eating healthy:
• Keep it simple: Eat foods in their natural state rather than processed and refined choices. Sweeten things naturally with fruit or honey.
• Be prepared: Make extra portions of healthy foods and freeze for later.
• Take care of yourself: Sleep, hydrate, refresh and restore.
Contact Teresa J. Farney at 636-0271, Twitter @tffoodie, Facebook Teresa Farney