“Weight gained over the winter holidays isn’t lost during the rest of the year!” This was the conclusion of co-author of a study at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK); Susan Z. Yanovski, M.D., Executive Director of NIDDK’s National Task Force on the Treatment and Prevention of Obesity.
Estimates of holiday weight gain ranges from 2 pounds to 10 pounds. It is not uncommon to hear people say they gained 5 pounds over the holidays and others 2-3 pounds with an occasional ” that’s not much!”
It isn’t much; if you lose the 2-3 pounds in the next year, however; researchers in the NICHD study not only found that most adults do not lose all of this weight but, “overweight and obese volunteers were more likely to gain five pounds than were those who were not overweight, which suggests that the holiday season may present special risks for those who are already overweight.”
We carry this weight over, year after year, plus continue to gain our “seasonal 1-2 pounds”; so that by the time you reach 50, you can easily have accumulated 20 pounds of “holiday cheer” around your middle.
We have already looked at some strategies to avoid holiday weight gain in “How to avoid holiday mindless eating & weight gain – Part 1” and “More strategies for avoiding holiday mindless eating and weight gain”.
Keep reading to discover 4 additional strategies to avoiding the “holiday permanent spread.” These strategies involve more cognitive (mind awareness) planning.
1. Awareness of your eating and exercise patterns during the holiday season is the first strategy to outsmarting holiday weight gain. Don’t “wing it” – make a plan for how you can avoid ANY holiday weight gain. Before you leave for your next holiday party or get-together, think about your “trigger foods or situations that trigger eating.” Do you find yourself “nibbling” at the office holiday pot luck luncheon all day? Does having all the festive foods in your fridge make it difficult for you to stay on your healthier eating plan? Do you tell yourself “it’s just one day, I can skip my exercise.”
2. Develop a plan to become “party savvy.” Many of my clients ask me “how do I handle the hostess that keeps encouraging me to eat?” One tip is to “always keep some food on your plate.” When a hostess sees a guest with an empty plate that is their trigger to ask you if you “had enough” or say “take more, I made them for you since I know how much you enjoy them.” A plate with some food sends the message “I’m not done yet; still enjoying my meal.”
3. Be the “gatekeeper” for your kitchen. If you find that having your trigger foods in the house makes it difficult for you to remain committed to eating healthier, how do you think you will fare when the holiday seasonal foods are staring you in the face every time you walk into your kitchen, open your cupboards, or reach for milk in your fridge? Develop your own unique “home holiday protection plan.” Purchasing foods that you know are healthier, lower calorie versions, and most importantly are not your “trigger foods” puts you in control of your home environment.
4. Don’t drown yourself in liquid calories. Holiday “seasonal beverages” – everything from Eggnog to Gingerbread Latte’s are addictive due to their high sugar and often high fat content. You can dial down the calories by selecting the non-fat versions of Eggnog, order your Latte’s “skinny” (i.e. with non-fat milk) plus ask for sugar-free version (this alone can save you 100 calories). Hold the whipped cream or ask for a “dollup.”
What about beverages that make you feel full of “holiday cheer?” The caloric costs of approximately 5 ounces of red wine is about 125 calories plus the collateral damage of alcohol-based drinks is that they lower our inhibitions making it more likely we forget about healthier eating and contribute to holiday weight gain.
Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and Accredited Hormone Cure Coach, Bonnie Roill RDN, sums up these cognitive strategies by saying: “Having one home-baked Christmas Cookie will not add one pound to your frame. Thinking, “I blew it by eating that one cookie so I might as well have several more” is familiar “self talk” for the food-version of “all or nothing” thinking. This behavior could tip the scales northbound.”
Source: http://Aspire2wellness.com, http://www.nichd.nih.gov; Survey results from independent surveys of hikers at Pinnacle Peak Park, Scottsdale AZ.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical/nutritional/fitness advice. Information presented is subject to change as additional discoveries are made or additional research is published. Links to various sites within blogs are provided for your convenience only and we are not responsible or liable for the content, accuracy of information provided or privacy practices of linked sites or for products or services described on these sites.