How To Avoid Holiday Season Weight Gain

Until the pharma companies you work for—or with—come up with a magic drug to prevent body expansion between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, you should follow some basic advice to stay fit over the holidays.

A few years back, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people at a healthy weight put on just under a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Those considered overweight or obese added an average of fi ve—count ‘em, fi ve!—pounds during the winter holidays. So, think about a decade or so of holiday decadence and do the math.

It isn’t just the pigging-out at family get-togethers celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa before the New Year’s blow-out that turns most of us into walking blobs of fat, but the seemingly endless holiday parties connected to our work or social groups. The combined affect of all this short-term high-caloric food and alcohol consumption forces us to make frantic diet and fi tness resolutions on December 31. So, as a public service, PM360 “Lifestyle” offers you some practical healthy holiday eating and fi tness advice.

Weight Maintenance No-Brainers

This time of year is the toughest to maintain a regular training program, but working out even a half hour a few times a week—alternating between interval and strength training—would be enough to offset the extra poundage from partying. But if you can’t get to the gym, following some holiday season weight maintenance “no-brainers” might help keep the extra poundage at bay. These are diet tips you’ve probably heard before, but they are worth repeating for the short-term strategy.
Portion Control: A few years ago, a healthcare and research center in Akron, Ohio completed a two-year study of 600 middle-aged and overweight people and their diet and exercise habits. They determined that portion control had a stronger relationship to weight loss and maintenance than eating healthier foods, reducing fat and increasing exercise. So when you sit down to all those holiday meals, just reduce what you’d normally eat by about 50 percent and your halfway home on keeping the pounds down.
Plate-Only Eating: Hand-in-hand with portion control should be eating just what you put on your plate—and make it a small plate at that. You have to resist the temptation for gratuitous grazing at all those buffets and cocktail parties you’ll be attending.
Eat Breakfast: You’ve heard it before and it’s true. Eating that morning meal (and not a heaping helping of bacon, eggs and pancakes) helps keep blood sugar and insulin stable and you’ll consume fewer calories at holiday evening dinners.
More Veggies: During holiday season we’re more likely to have 7-9 servings a day of high-calorie comfort food than what we should really be eating in that quantity—vegetables and fruits. They are not only low in calories and high in nutrients they are also filled with fiber, which helps you feel full.
Increase Protein: Studies show that The Big P makes us feel more satiated than carbs or fat because it takes more energy for the body to digest and store protein. It also helps preserve muscle, which makes weight maintenance easier because muscle burns more calories than fat.So think about it. With a little planning, concentration, effort and discipline between Turkey Day and New Year’s Day, you may not be so desperate to get the gym on January 2.

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