It starts with Halloween and doesn’t stop until New Year’s Eve. What is it? The evil onslaught of food. Holy crap!! This year the Christmas decorations were up in August. Let me tell you something marketing geniuses of Madison Avenue, here in Texas this summer it was 108 degrees in August. We were literally just trying to survive the summer; we really didn’t want to look at all those freaking decorations when it was so hot outside that we could barely make it to our cars without having a heat stroke. And now we’re all just trying to keep from gaining the customary holiday pounds. Happy freakin’ holidays.
Despite the common beliefs, most people only gain about 1-2 pounds during the holidays. Don’t eat your fruitcake just yet. A study from the National Institutes of Health states:
“Although an average holiday weight gain of less than a pound may seem unimportant, that weight was not lost over the remainder of the year….”
“This is a ‘good news/bad news’ story,” said Dr. Yanovski. “The good news is that people don’t gain as much weight as we thought during the holidays. The bad news is that weight gained over the winter holidays isn’t lost during the rest of the year.”
The knowledge that people actually accumulate a large proportion of their yearly weight gain over the winter holiday season, the researchers added, may prove useful in treating overweight and obesity.
“The cumulative effects of yearly weight gain during the fall and winter are likely to contribute to the substantial increase in body weight that frequently occurs during adulthood,” the researchers wrote. “Promotion of weight stability during the fall and winter months may prove useful as a strategy to prevent age-related weight gain in the United States.”
Think that two pounds isn’t so bad? If you gain 2 pounds over the holidays and 2 pounds during the rest of the year, that’s 20 pounds in just 5 years. That’s some serious weight gain!! So how can you avoid that cumulative weight gain? Here are some tips.
First, here is my blog You Are What You Eat to introduce you to making smarter food choices.
Second, here is last year’s blog on How To Avoid the Holiday Weight Gain. And here are some additional tips for avoiding that holiday weight gain, compliments of The Cleveland Clinic:
1. Get moving
One of the most effective ways to maintain or lose body weight is to engage in regular, sustained aerobic activity (*).To burn off those extra calories, kick up your exercise. If you exercise for 30 minutes a day, increase it to 45 minutes. If you exercise three times a week, move it up to five times a week.
2. Aim for seven-a-day
Making sure you eat seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day is a great way to help fill-up your stomach but not your calorie level. When compared to other snack foods like chips, crackers and cookies, gram for gram, fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories and tons more nutrients. What’s more – the fiber in fruits and vegetables fill you up faster than traditional snack foods. Pack your refrigerator with bags of cut-up vegetables and whole or cut-up fruits. Grab a bag while on the go or at work. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll eat your five-a-day before you snack on any cookies or other holiday treats. You’re sure to take in fewer calories overall.
3. Control the risk for temptation
Controlling even the slightest chance of coming in contact with “tempting” foods is one way to effectively reduce your intake. While you won’t be able to control all situations, focus on the many ones you can. For example, do you keep candy or cookies at your desk or workspace? Do you frequent the dining room table or pantry where you store all your holiday goodies? Make a mental note of tempting places and try to control them. For example, make a pact with co-workers that goodies will be kept solely in the break room, not at the front desk or in various offices. Mentally plan out how you will avoid tempting situations. If you can’t avoid them entirely, see number 4.
4. Limit to one-a-day
While you can’t control every situation, you can control how much food goes into your mouth. If you are constantly bombarded with holiday parties and displays of desserts or candies you can still effectively help prevent overeating and weight gain. One way is the one-a-day method. Allow yourself one small serving of a cookie or piece of candy each day during the holiday season. Remember that you may have to compensate for it later in the day by reducing your total caloric intake or by burning a few extra calories while exercising. If you aren’t confronted with holiday foods that day, just skip your one-a-day – but don’t compensate and double-up on your serving the next day.
5. Always plan ahead – Never go to a party hungry
Before you go to a holiday party, eat a healthy snack such as a serving of your favorite fruit, fat-free yogurt or a low-fat, whole grain granola bar. When you arrive at the party, you won’t be craving hors d’oeuvres.
“If you’re going to a potluck dinner, bring a healthy dish to share such as a salad, veggie or fruit tray, or a low-fat pudding, Jell-O or fruit dessert,” says Zumpano. “That way, you’ll know you have at least one healthy item on the table spread.”
6. Be in charge of your party choices:
Small plate, please
Be wise when choosing appetizers – a small portion of some appetizers may help you from overeating at dinner.
“Pick up a small plate, and stick with vegetables, but limit or avoid the creamy dips,” advises Zumpano. “Restrict your intake of butter crackers, chips, cheese and meats. If you must have a deep-fried appetizer, eat only one small serving. Never go back for seconds. For dinner, fill half of your plate with salad and vegetables, one quarter with meat, and the final quarter with starch,” Zumpano says.
Avoid the sauce
Avoid sauces made from cream, half-and-half or meat drippings. For salads, use oil and vinegar, vinaigrette or low-fat dressings. Broth -based or vegetable sauces are fine.
What about desserts?
The best low-calorie choices are fruit, Jell-O, pudding, an unfrosted mini muffin, shortbread cookies, ginger snaps or angel food cake. If you must have a dessert with frosting, butter cream, cream cheese, or chocolate chips, limit yourself to one small cookie or one thin slice of cake.
Watch the drinks
“Besides restricting your alcohol to one or two servings, you also need to restrict the type of alcohol,” says Zumpano. “For example, instead of high-fat eggnog, have a light beer or wine. After that, stick with calorie-free drinks such as water, unsweetened ice tea, hot tea or coffee.”
7. Say No Politely
Many times you feel forced to eat foods because people keep putting it in front of you. Learn to say no politely, such as “No thank you, I’ve had enough. Everything was delicious”, or “I couldn’t eat another bite. Everything tasted wonderful”. You’ll find saying no isn’t so hard to do after all.
8. Focus on socializing
Don’t stand around the food table when you are at a party – focus your energies on making conversation with others instead of focusing on foods. Conversation is calorie-free.
Be smart and remember, NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS THIN FEELS.
Still Rockin’ It