Monday, November 17, 2014

Holiday Weight Gain: More of a Threat than Ebola

‘Tis that time of year yet again. The pumpkin spice latte has been shoved to the side as peppermint and eggnog mochas return to the spotlight. The mall has not quite turned into a zoo quite yet, however you can already find Christmas commercials on tv and radio stations playing Christmas music.

Oh the holidays, full of friends, families, parties, and of course food…copious amounts of food. When I go home for the holidays, there is a day where our house is transformed into a sweatshop where we spend an entire day cookies, chocolates, and fudge. Inevitably, there is always some squabble about what color the cookies should be frosted and if there are enough sprinkles on said cookie.

Between the stress of attempting to decorate your cookies like the ones on the box…

The stress of spending an extended amount or time with family…

And wanting to keep your physique yet being inundated with cookies...

the threat of holiday weight gain is imminent.

Now, if you haven’t figured it out by now, the media likes to exaggerate a little about the amount of weight people gain between the holidays. The media claims range anywhere from seven to ten pounds, but in reality most people only gain one pound. One pound may not seem like a lot but if you keep that pound on, it starts to add up year after year.

To help guide you through this tumultuous time, I have prepared for you Beth’s Ultimate Healthy Holiday Eating Guide!

Beth's Ultimate Healthy Holiday Eating Guide:

1. Exercise- I briefly touched on how stressful the holidays can be; we have all been there. Whether it’s the frustration of fixing the Christmas lights, the long lines at stores, figuring out what to get everybody, or just being cooped up with your family, the stress can be overwhelming. It is a saying in my family that it is not truly Christmas until someone cries.

All of this holiday stress can be channeled in one of three ways. The first is via emotional eating. The second way is best exemplified by this scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas… 

The third and probably the healthiest way is by exercising. Have you had it with the lights or your mom nagging you about every little thing? Try going for a jog or do some pushups instead of eating, drinking, or screaming away your frustrations.

2. Wear tight clothes- You may laugh at me on this one, but take my word on it. Leave the sweatpants, elastic waisted pants, flowey dresses, etc at home and opt for something more figure forming that won’t give or you can always just slap on a belt. I think we have been there after that Thanksgiving meal where we ate too much and are so uncomfortable that we have to unbutton our pants. By wearing tighter clothes, it helps serve as a reminder and may help keep you from going overboard.

3. Eat a snack before the party- Instead of arriving at the party starving and end up gorging on all kinds of not as healthy food, try eating a small, healthy snack or meal before you go to the party. This way you won’t go crazy and turn into the cookie monster.

4. Bring a healthy dish- There are no guarantees that any holiday party will have healthy options. Instead of being “forced” to eat not as healthy food, bring your own healthy dish so that there will be at least one thing there that you won’t give you a Santa-esque figure. 

5. Use a small plate and utensils- Instead of grabbing the huge buffet plate, try using a smaller plate, perhaps a salad plate, and smaller utensils. This will way it will take more effort to overeat. If you really wanted to take this advice to heart while adding some culture to the traditional holiday meal, try using chopsticks. If your chopstick skills are like mine, you will get frustrated and just give up rather quickly.

6. Sit next to either the health nut, most judgmental person, or person you dislike the most- One sure fire way to avoid overeating is to sit next to the food police or the most judgmental person at the party. Going up for seconds or loading up on cookies? Be prepared for a snide comment or to be judged heavily. While it may be agonizing, it will make you a little more conscious of what and how much you are eating in addition to want to finish eating quickly to escape. This concept also applies to sitting next to the person that you dislike the most as well.

7. Say no to Grandma (food pushers)- For some reason grandmas and moms around the world have come together to decide that nothing shows your love more than shoving cookies, cake, or more lasagna down your grandkid’s/kid’s throat. Nobody wants to hurt grandma’s or mom’s feeling so if saying no won’t work, just tell them you will take it to go. That way you can eat it later as part of a meal or, depending on how good the food was, throw it away. (Grandma if you are reading this, I have obviously never done this)

8. Fill up on fruits and vegetables- Fruits and vegetables are lower in calories and contain fiber that helps you feel full.

9. Drink water- Keeping hydrated is important because thirst is often confused for hunger. Instead of heading straight for the fruit cake at the first pains of hunger, make sure that you are actually hungry and not just thirsty. Also, not only does water help you feel full, but it will help you avoid other liquid calories in the form of egg nog or other adult beverages.

10. Eat slowly- It takes about 20 minutes for the signal from the stomach to reach the brain to tell it that the stomach is full. This is actually the key to success that competitive eaters use; the quicker you down the food the more you can shove in before your brain recognizes that your stomach is about to burst. So go ahead and slow down and talk to that weird cousin of yours.

11. Keep sweets in opaque containers- If you or your parents keep tons of holiday cookies or candies around try to put them in opaque containers (containers you can’t see through) to keep them out of sight. Research has shown that the “out of sight, out of mind” adage actually works. 

12. Don’t eat out of the container- While lounging on the couch watching all the Christmas movies or specials with the whole container of cookies may sound nice and relaxing, it can be a train wreck for your figure when you look down to see that you downed five cookies without even noticing. Instead, put whatever it is that you are eating on a plate and put said food away. This will help you from mindless eating more than you wanted to. 

13. Only make a couple kinds of desserts- Instead of making every recipe you pinned on your Pintrest board, only make two or three. Think of it this way, if there are 15 types of cookies that you can choose from, you will find it appropriate to eat more since there is more variety. Lets say in this situation you eat five cookies. Now, if there were only three types of cookies available, you would find it more appropriate to try maybe one or two.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to perfect the grace that I will be giving this year…

Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


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