The holidays are upon us. Everywhere we look, there are delicious foods just waiting to be consumed. It’s easy to indulge and overeat. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American gains one pound per holiday season.
While one pound may not seem like much, researchers in the study were quick to point out that what makes this weight gain so harmful to your waistline is the fact that you’re unlikely to lose the added weight after the conclusion of the holiday season. The weight gain you experience in one holiday season compounds with the weight you gain during the next, and the next, and the next, so on and so forth, ad infinitum. It will only take a few year to see a detrimental accumulative effect.
You can take control of your holiday weight gain by taking these tips into consideration.
Everything in Moderation – “Everything in Moderation” is a good motto for the holidays. Part of health is pleasure. If we deprive ourselves of our favorite foods or feel we cannot (or should not) join in with special meal sharing with our friends and family, it affects our health in other ways. Getting stressed over food is counterproductive. Give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday meals. The holidays do not need to mean the choice between weight gain and deprivation. Find the middle ground and enjoy your favorite foods this holiday season, but in moderation. Plus depriving yourself of something in the moment usually leads to craving it intensely later on – and overeating!
Wait Before Seconds – It can take time for your stomach to send the “I’m getting full” signal to your brain. After finishing your first helping, take a 10-minute break before going back for more. Make conversation. Drink some water. Then re-evaluate your appetite. You might realize you are actually full, or you may want only a small portion of seconds. Either way, give your brain some time to decide whether you truly are still hungry.
Don’t Arrive Hungry – Before you go out or have a big dinner, have a light snack at home. Arriving hungry will only cause you to eat too much, too fast. Excellent pre-party snacks combine complex carbohydrates with protein and unsaturated fat, like apple slices with peanut butter or a slice of turkey and cheese on whole-wheat pita bread. You will also enjoy the meal more because you’re not ravenous. Even if you’re hosting and doing all the cooking yourself, don’t forget to keep yourself nourished in the process. Keep a small bowl of almonds and dried cranberries where you’re working so you don’t forget to eat.
Choose Wisely – Whether you are passing family style or going around the buffet, you don’t have to eat it all. It is perfectly acceptable to say, “No, thank you” and continue passing a dish to the person next to you. Only take the foods you truly want, not some of everything just to be polite. At a buffet, walk around the table and look at all the options before filling your plate. That way, you don’t get to the end only to find that your plate is already overflowing and there are things you would have preferred instead. Holiday meals are all about enjoyment and being together, so take the time to choose the foods you will enjoy the most.