Thanksgiving is over but we’re now in a full-on holiday food marathon. No one wants to diet or even hear about health until the first of the year. Food is everywhere. Even at work, people are deluged with treats “for the office”. Holiday parties abound, and all manner of family and social functions, each with their respective food character.
How much weight do people really gain during the holidays?
It was long thought that people gained about 5-7 pounds during the period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. This, plus the obvious psychological milestone of January 1, probably triggered the massive focus on health and dieting at the first of EVERY year.
But a recent scientific review looked at studies that included adults, as well as children, and revealed that people tended to gain only about 2 pounds during the holidays. I know, you think that can’t possibly be true, and maybe it isn’t – for you. That’s the thing about these studies – they tend to put everyone into a big blender and get an average. This review did find however that overweight/obese people tended to gain more weight and normal-weight people. You’re not everybody, though. If YOU tend to struggle with your weight during the holidays, then maybe it’s time to do something different than in years past.
No holiday weight gain: It’s possible!
Maybe no weight loss, either, but that’s OK. Anything better than last year’s results entitles you to beat your chest with pride. How to get there? Think of this as just another “project”, and any successful project starts with a good plan and this one is no different. That said, it can be a fun plan that gives you a nice reward: waking up on New Year’s morning without the weight regrets of seasons past. If the holidays are traditionally a tough season for you, weight-wise, then victory is all about prevention.
Tips for strategic holiday eating:
• Ask about the food and drinks that will be at social events. Plans work better without surprises.
• Do a “buffet screening” and filter out one or two things you like the most. Keep the other choices good-for-you ones and eat those first, so you fill up on the low-calorie foods.
• Keep it to one caloric drink only. Whether it’s an alcoholic drink or just a soda, minimize your liquid calories. Then, keep to water, seltzer, or diet soda (yes, they’re safe so calm down). Others may get smashed on booze, but you’ll wake up tomorrow feeling better and without the weight gain from the unneeded calories.
• Never arrive to events hungry — it’s the ultimate trigger for overeating.
• Get fussy about worksite food? If it’s some item you look for, plan for it. bring your lunch and make it a modest one, like Greek yogurt and some fruit or two hard-cooked eggs and some whole grain crackers and zero-calorie seltzer or iced tea. Keep the special food to a “hospital-sized” portion.
• Move. More about this in my next post but get ahead of the game now. Do SOMETHING. Anything you do beats sitting still.
FINAL THOUGHT: Leave early. If the food is just too difficult to handle, it’s no party for you. Making a timely exit is a sing you’re in charge. Pat yourself on the back!