Asked and Answered: Are there FSA-eligible ways to keep holiday weight off?

Living Well

The holiday season is here, and for many people that means eating more and moving less. This often leads to a frustrating amount of weight gain that people struggle with throughout the winter months.

But maintaining a healthy weight should be a priority no matter the season, since it's well known that the excess pounds can lead to health complications like diabetes and high blood pressure. When it comes to holiday weight gain, the best way to combat it is to avoid gaining it in the first place.

Memberships to health clubs and gyms typically aren't eligible for FSA reimbursement, but here are some other smart ways you can utilize your FSA funds to keep the holiday weight off. (As always, we're not doctors - see a qualified medical professional before making any changes to your weight loss and fitness routines.)

Diet foods are (usually) not eligible!

We understand this question… especially during a time of year when our celebrations center on food and drink. But special foods necessary to treat obesity are not FSA-eligible, since they may also satisfy normal nutritional requirements. But, specialty foods designed for specific treatment of a condition may qualify if necessary for a medical condition, yet only the excess cost of the special product is reimbursable.

Long story short? Most foods are ineligible for reimbursement with your tax-free health funds. But speak to your FSA administrator to see if your needs qualify.

Stay active

Staying active is one of the most important steps you can take in preventing holiday weight gain. And while you can't buy yourself a new bicycle with your FSA funds, you can invest in some equipment that will make your workouts more comfortable and prevent injury.

  • If you experience joint pain while exercising - braces, supports and many orthopedic insoles are eligible for reimbursement.
  • Kinesiology tape is a popular option for pain relief and support among athletes and is an FSA-eligible item.
  • Make sure to refill your first-aid kit. Items like bandages, cold packs, and gauze pads are all FSA-eligible so you will have what you need on hand if you do get hurt while working out.

If you're not already physically active, you don't need to wait until spring comes to start an exercise routine. Start small by incorporating more walking, simple strength training, and stretching into your daily routine.

You can build up to more intense activities over time. Before you get started, make an appointment with your physician to make sure you're clear to start an exercise regimen - you can always use your FSA funds to cover the copay.

Sleep better

Getting a good night's sleep has been proven to play a big part in maintaining a healthy weight. But not everyone is able to get a full eight hours of shut-eye a night, especially with the added stress of the holiday season. So use your FSA funds on these items that can help you get the rest you need.

  • Select eye masks for pain relief are available with heating and cooling functions, and with soothing scents.
  • Acupressure pillows can help relieve tension and allow you to relax.
  • If you find yourself frequently struggling, sleep aids are eligible with a prescription.

See a professional

If you find yourself struggling with weight gain and eating right, you should consider setting up an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist. These professionals can help you take stock of your diet and make changes to get you to a healthy weight. Before you make the appointment, check in with your FSA administrator - some require a Letter of Medical Necessity for reimbursement.

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