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Maybe you already feel it.  Or at least you fear its arrival.  What is it?  It is the twinge we get this time of year about weight gain over the holidays.  It can be scarier than the ghosts and goblins of Halloween.  Oh well, there is always the New Year’s resolution! 

Photo from Satya Murthy

 

We go into the holiday season thinking it’s only once a year.  It’s ok to indulge and live a little.  The problem with this mindset is that the holidays are not just Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Our holiday extravaganza starts with Halloween and runs for 8-9 weeks to just past New Year’s.  It is a long string of big meals, parties, edible gifts and drinks galore.   

 

Whether it is 1-2 pounds or closer to the typical 5 pound gain, what’s the big deal?  I can burn that off in a good week at the gym.  But research shows that the typical person DOES NOT lose the weight they gain.  The cumulative effect can be 10-20 pounds in the next 5-10 years.  The extra weight can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

 

WHY ARE THE HOLIDAYS SUCH A FLURRY OF OVEREATING?  HERE ARE SOME CUES:

  • Social pressure  -  some feel the need to overeat and to handle their guilt, they pressure you to eat
  • Stress – commitments mean stress, stress mean comfort foods and nobody eats celery sticks
  • Broken routines – traveling and more sitting time throws you off your exercise routine
  • Emotional associations – Grandma made it just for you plus you have fond memories from your past

 

HERE ARE SOME NEW THINGS TO TRY

  • Eat until you are not hungry, rather until you are full – this habit change can help you lose pounds
  • Don’t save calories by skipping meals to be ready for a large holiday meal – more food is stored as fat and not burned off after you eat.  Research shows you might actually eat twice as much.
  • Eat your carbs last to stay full longer and keep after dinner cravings away – start with the protein and veggies before rolls and potatoes.  Protein slows the release of carbs into the bloodstream.
  • Stay away from the buffet and remove yourself from the serving area – fill your plate only once and choose only one “favorite” item.  Load up on vegetables, fruits and lean meats.  Nibbling is eliminated if you do your visiting and conversing away from the table.
  • Fight off fat with MILK – eat your helping of pies, cakes and cookies with a glass of milk and absorb 20% less fat.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that the calcium in milk binds to fat molecules and gets them out of your body before they can be absorbed.
  • Dodge overeating by postponing cocktails – wait until after dinner to toast the holidays.  Research shows that drinking alcohol prompts 70% of us to eat more food than we need or even want.  Science says that alcohol triggers your brain to react more intensely to delicious food aromas.  If you do drink alcohol, stay away from sweetened mixers like soda and juice and practice moderation.
  • Drink water before meals – British researchers now have proof that drinking water before meals really does lower your appetite.  Drinking two cups of water before every meal can assist you in actually losing weight by feeling fuller sooner.
  • Start a non-food tradition – decorate a gingerbread house from a kit, make Christmas tree ornaments, holiday wreaths or cards or assemble care packages for nursing homes or overseas troops.  Plan a pre-Thanksgiving dinner walk with your guests.

 

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