Holiday Weight Gain – the gift that keeps on giving?
The holidays are just around the corner and the Thanksgiving turkey has been ordered. This holiday season I challenge all of my patients to be conscientious and stay healthy during these festive times.
It is estimated that most Americans gain 2-5 lbs during the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. This constitutes roughly 75% of the annual weight gain. And this weight normally is not shed after the holidays are over. Therefore, one could say, this weight gain is truly the gift that keeps on giving!
Did you know that approximately two-thirds of Americans are qualified as being “overweight” (BMI = 25-30) and one third are obese (BMI > 30)? If this should give you any cause for concern and if you don’t want to be part of this statistic, there are ways to combat this holiday bulge.
As many of you know, I have lost a total of 18 lbs and 12 inches since last year and have maintained this weight loss. You can bet that the last thing I want to do is to gain any of this weight back! So I’ve done some investigating for all of us and distilled out the most important tips to combat any holiday weight gain.
Balance Holiday Decadence with Healthy Habits
- Keep a food and fitness journal. Or use a fit-bit or app, like Healthwatch360 to track your activity and caloric intake. If you write it down or enter it into your smart-phone, it’s much harder to deny the evidence. It much easier to avoid hitting the gym if you conveniently forget how much eggnog or cookies you indulged in last night.
- Balance extra calories with extra exercise. Yes, you can still enjoy the special holiday events, but counterbalance the extra caloric intake with an extra work-out for the week. So, if you attend two extra holiday parties per week, add two extra work-outs to your weekly routine.
- Eat mindfully. Take time to savor your food. Studies have shown that those people who sit in a well-lit location, take smaller bites and chew their food thoroughly are less likely to overeat. Although you may not have control of the lighting and seating at the holiday party, you do have control over how fast and how thoroughly you chew your food. Try to chew each bite at least 10 times before swallowing. Take in the scent, the texture, the taste of each bite. You’ll notice the whole experience to be more satisfying!
- Sign up for a Holiday event. I look for a seasonal 5K Run/Walk in Del Mar December. If you sign up early for an event, you’re more likely to follow through on the necessary training. Even if you don’t want to run it, walking it is also fun!
- Turn back the clock. This means letting go of technology and going back to the basics, like walking. Park at the furthest end of the parking lot at the mall and take the stair instead of elevator or escalator.
- Bring your own homemade dishes to holiday events. It is considered common courtesy to bring a side dish or two to a party. Instead of bringing Christmas cookies, bring a healthy fruit salad and non-fat yogurt.
- Start with soup and/or salad. Studies have shown that you will eat less during a single sitting if you start the meal off with a water-based soup or a green salad. If you think your hosts won’t be having either of these, have a cup of soup and/or a small green salad before leaving for the party.
There are many more health tips which I will be sharing over the next few weeks.
Let’s enjoy the holidays and not accept the gift that keeps on giving!
Yours in health,