Most would agree that the holidays are not only about shopping, wrapping and gifting, but are a time for celebrating with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. The holiday season, which begins at Thanksgiving and lasts through the New Year, gives us reason to enjoy, rejoice and be grateful, as we toast to good health and prosperity in the coming year. Many look forward to this special time of year filled with holiday luncheons, cocktail parties and family gatherings, bursting with irresistible little morsels, delicious meals and delectable deserts. How much fun would the holidays be if we didn’t overindulge at least a little bit? Watching the hors d’oeuvres pass by while munching on celery or carrot sticks takes more than determination and will power. While it may not be easy to resist high calorie goodies, it’s much easier to prevent weight gain than to lose weight after the holidays.
Although people often report a five to six pound weight gain during the holiday season, a recent study showed that participants actually gained one to two pounds. The study also showed that those who lost the extra weight didn’t do so until about mid-September, just in time for the next holiday weight gain. Although people have well intended resolutions to lose any weight they gained come January, most keep that extra pound and add to it each year. Weight that slowly creeps up over the years means that people can be carrying significantly more weight by midlife. The holidays are especially risky for those who are overweight or obese, as statistics show that those who are already carrying extra weight may gain an additional five or more pounds during the holidays. Those who have fought long and hard to lose weight during the year may struggle to maintain their weight loss come holiday time.
When you know your risk, you can plan accordingly. If you are, and have always been, a heathy weight, you can indulge in some extra treats or high energy foods during the holiday season. If you have struggled to lose or maintain your weight, you may want to stay vigilant. In other words, enjoy that Thanksgiving dinner and slice of homemade pumpkin pie, but skip the cookies and treats that tend to show up often between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The problem, it seems, is not just overindulging on Thanksgiving Day, but overeating throughout the entire season. Making healthy choices is particularly challenging, as the most tempting holiday foods contain large amounts of sugar, unhealthy fats and far more calories than you might imagine.
Prioritizing your indulgences by choosing an occasional truly special holiday treat and passing up those that are not worth the extra calories, is a good strategy for minimizing weight gain during the holiday season. After all, Super Bowl Sunday follows the shortly after the New Year’s and many of us will either host or attend a game day party, stretching out the holiday season and providing an excuse to overindulge from Thanksgiving through Super Bowl Sunday. Perhaps, plan to enjoy the festivities on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday. Staying on a healthy track on the days between may help prevent having to spend months struggling to lose any added weight, while still allowing the enjoyment of small indulgences on the actual holidays.
The Skinny on Holiday Weight Gain. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/22/the-skinny-on-holiday-weight-gain/?_r=0
Holiday Weight Gain Starts Early. http://www.consumerreports.org/diet-nutrition/holiday-weight-gain/
5 Myths and Facts About Holiday Weight Gain. http://news.health.com/2013/12/19/5-myths-and-facts-about-holiday-weight-gain/
A Look at Holiday Weight Gain in 3 Countries. http://www.livescience.com/56206-holiday-weight-gain-america-japan-germany.html
Healthy Holiday Eating Tips. http://njaes.rutgers.edu/health/holiday-eating.asp