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Healthy for the holidays

Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, goes through an example meal plan with an Airman, Dec. 19, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Stuart provides individual sessions to personalize meal plans for individual goals. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2d Lt. Kaitlin Toner)

Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, goes through an example meal plan with an Airman, Dec. 19, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Stuart provides individual sessions to personalize meal plans for individual goals. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2d Lt. Kaitlin Toner)

Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, meets with an Airman to discuss a potential meal plan and portion control, Dec. 19, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.  Stuart provides services at no cost to all active duty, dependents and retirees to help them meet their diet and nutrition goals. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2d Lt. Kaitlin Toner)

Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, meets with an Airman to discuss a potential meal plan and portion control, Dec. 19, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Stuart provides services at no cost to all active duty, dependents and retirees to help them meet their diet and nutrition goals. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2d Lt. Kaitlin Toner)

Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, uses food props to show an Airman what his portions should look like, Dec. 19, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.  Stuart provides services at no cost to all active duty, dependents, and retirees to help them meet their diet and nutrition goals. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2d Lt. Kaitlin Toner)

Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, uses food props to show an Airman what his portions should look like, Dec. 19, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Stuart provides services at no cost to all active duty, dependents, and retirees to help them meet their diet and nutrition goals. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2d Lt. Kaitlin Toner)

Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, gives an Airman resources to help him control his diet, Dec. 19, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Stuart’s services are available at no cost to all active duty, dependents, and retirees. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2d Lt. Kaitlin Toner)

Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, gives an Airman resources to help him control his diet, Dec. 19, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Stuart’s services are available at no cost to all active duty, dependents, and retirees. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2d Lt. Kaitlin Toner)

Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, explains the differences between whole milk, two percent, one percent and fat-free, with visual milk-to-fat ratios, Dec. 19, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Stuart explained that fat-free is usually best, but one percent can also provide necessary essential fats to avid gym-goers, while whole milk is generally not recommended for its high fat content.  (U.S. Air Force photo by 2d Lt. Kaitlin Toner)

Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, explains the differences between whole milk, two percent, one percent and fat-free, with visual milk-to-fat ratios, Dec. 19, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Stuart explained that fat-free is usually best, but one percent can also provide necessary essential fats to avid gym-goers, while whole milk is generally not recommended for its high fat content. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2d Lt. Kaitlin Toner)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Maintaining weight during the holidays seems an impossible feat.  After all, ’tis the season for excess sugar, sticks of butter and festive spirits.

The holiday season doesn’t have to be the end of healthy living, though. There are ways to navigate the holidays skillfully to avoid excess weight gain and Moody’s new dietitian is sharing her secrets to holiday success.

 “The usual holiday party is centered on food and drink,” said Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian. “Choosing smaller portions of your favorite foods [is more ideal].”

Portion control, however, is not the only hurdle standing between you and a spring-break-ready body. One source of excess calories during the holiday season, according to Stuart, is alcohol.

“Alcohol and its mixers contain a high amount of calories with low nutrient density,” said Stuart. “Celebrate with family and friends. Don’t deprive yourself of your holiday favorites, but stay mindful!”

Enjoying the holidays without overindulging is the key. One easy way to prevent overindulgence is planning ahead.

“Eating a small low-calorie meal before you head to a party can reduce your hunger and potential for overeating calorie-rich foods,” said Stuart.

Watching portion sizes and your drink intake are what it boils down to, but staying mindful becomes much simpler when you’re in control of the portions and the ingredients. 

“If you are hosting, you are in control of what types of foods are being served,” said Stuart. “Provide foods with lower fat and calorie options and more vegetable based foods, rather than starch based foods.”

Substitutions are a great way to lower the caloric value of your favorite foods.  Stuart recommends substituting applesauce for oil, margarine or butters, as one example.

“Great substitutes bring flavor and lower calories to any dish,” said Stuart.

Lower calorie dishes and portion control go a long way, but you may still find yourself overindulging. Gaining weight is a process, so it’s important not to be discouraged by an instance of overindulgence and not to catastrophize every extra calorie.  In order to maintain weight, calories consumed must equal calories lost, according to the National Institute of Health. To eliminate the threat of excess weight gain when you do overindulge, Stuart recommends staying active during the holiday season.

“Physical activity is a great way to keep the extra holiday weight off,” said Stuart. “Take the family out for a walk after the meal, play sports or ride bicycles together.”

With fun physical activities for the whole family, it’s much easier and more enjoyable to get out there, get moving and start burning off those extra calories.

The holidays are inevitable, but the weight gain doesn’t have to be.

Stuart’s services are available to all active duty, dependents, and retirees.  Individual appointments can be made by calling (229) 257-1470 or by emailing sandra.stuart.ctr@us.af.mil. Group classes, squadron and group briefings are also available for schedule upon request.