Skip to main content

Handling Holiday Weight Gain

In the midst of the holiday season, food is heavy topic. Between cookie exchanges, holiday parties and family dinners, many people find themselves eating more. Over 35% of Americans report family celebrations and feasts are a source of weight gain. On average, between Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans will gain anywhere from five to ten pounds (that’s one dress size!). Typically, people consume 32% more during holiday dinners and even more if holidays fall on the weekend.
For this season, limiting overall consumption of unhealthy or unnecessary foods will be key. Surrounded by increased choices of food and desserts, it can be challenging and difficult to say no. In an effort to keep those holiday pounds off and maintain healthy lifestyles, here are several suggestions to consider. Planning ahead will be a simple and effective tool for you.

Know what types of food will be available and what you can eat. If several of your favorite dishes will be offered, choose beforehand which one you want over the others. Self-monitoring is an effective tool to maintain your current weight and reduce the likelihood of holiday weight gain. Self-monitoring uses personal observation and recording your target behaviors. However, you will have to be honest about what you are eating and how much. Using self-monitoring and documenting your foods can help you identify specific food groups that are challenging to refrain from eating to as well as patterns when you are likely to eat more.

Even with reviewing your food choices, you still need to eat; so don’t deprive yourself altogether. Consider having a bite or two instead of the whole piece. If you get to cook this year, use new recipes that are low in calories. Even if you have to bring food places, at least you know there will be a healthy alternative and you can still enjoy meals with others. If you are headed to a holiday dinner or party, you may consider eating a healthy snack beforehand.

Curbing your appetite can reduce overeating and unnecessary calorie consumption. Another suggestion is not to skip regular meals. Maintaining consistent blood sugar levels by eating regular meals can reduce weight gain. If you plan to starve yourself and gorge out on holiday dinners, that is not an effective plan.

During meals and festivities, remember to drink water. There will be several opportunities for you to consume empty calories through liquids. Having a water bottle on hand can help curb your appetite and decrease hunger.

Finally, make sure you are getting rest (7 to 8 hours of sleep) and exercise. Research has shown that limited sleep increases hunger up to 18% in adults. You need to get your rest. Increasing your exercise time by 10 to 15 minutes also can help shed those extra holiday calories.

 Gaining weight by consuming sugary drinks and desserts is not difficult to do this time of year. Challenging yourself to refrain from holiday cookie platters and unhealthy eating patterns is much harder. So remember, before you fill your plate, consider food options and choices in front of you. There’s no reason you cannot start the New Years off right before the end of the 2014.

It’s all about moderation.

Popular posts from this blog

Let's Talk About "All In Your Head"

If I had to vote for a phrase, just 4 short words, that cause more problems in our society than most others it would be these:
All in your head.
To hear these words as a person with medical symptoms brings about such a cascade of thoughts. Anything from "My doctor doesn't believe me" to "Are my symptoms really happening?" with corresponding emotions of anxiety, confusion, anger, even rage.
I spend a lot of time undoing the damage these 4 words can do in the patients I see. They've been told, either directly or indirectly, their disease is psychologically based. And that means it's really not that bad, that they should just get over it and move on. It's a running thread in most of the patients with any "functional" diagnosis I've seen, such as irritable bowel syndrome, but also appears in those with "organic" conditions - those diseases perceived as real like inflammatory bowel disease.
These 4 words are part of the fundamenta…

Bubbles

I've been thinking a lot about how we live in an era of infinite access to infinite information (thanks, internet tubes!) yet we still fall into many of the well-established psychological laws, if we can call them that, of human behavior.  Don't worry, this isn't going to be some drawn out post on social psychology. Wikipedia is great for that.

I want to talk about bubbles.  Information bubbles, that is. And how each one of us lives in one to some extent, no matter how educated or enlightened we see ourselves to be. And even if we know we live in said bubble, it takes being shown information that directly conflicts with how you think things are, or should be, and the result is you feel kinda ew - the technical term for "ew" being cognitive dissonance.

I live in a bubble.

In my bubble is the world of academic medicine, academic health psychology, and a circle of psychologists dedicated to people living with chronic digestive illness.  I live in Chicago, a major me…

Medical PTSD

“It is just an illusion here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever.”  - Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five 
A few years ago, my gastroenterologist wanted me to have something called an esophageal manometry to better understand how my newly diagnosed eosinophilic esophagitis may have been affecting how the muscles in my esophagus were functioning.  I work with the guys who wrote the book on esophageal disease, and these guys do a lot of manometries. I know all about esophageal manometry.

My mind immediately went to images of a small bowel enteroclysis I'd had at least a decade prior. My body grew tense and it was almost as if I was back in that cold room with the cold metal table and the cold radiologist, who just didn't believe me when I told her how bad my gag reflex was before she placed a tube down my throat to inject my small intestines with barium.

It took what seemed like forever to get th…