A handful of studies show that on average adults and kids tend to gain about a pound throughout the holidays. But these are averages. People who are already overweight or used to be overweight tend to gain more. Where is obesity’s holiday spirit? Those who have more should be giving to those who have less!
A multitude of reasons make some people more susceptible to weight gain. It is not a personal weakness that our resting metabolism tends to drop as we lose weight, priming us to regain it. It is not a moral failure that causes some people to pack on extra pounds when they overeat whereas others resist weight gain when they indulge. After we lose weight, the scale is like a spring-loaded jack-in-the-box, just waiting to jump up when the latch of dietary restraint is loosened. So how can we silent the alluring sounds of Pop Goes the Weasel and keep the lid on our weight this holiday season?
Track Your Weight and What You Eat
Stepping on the scale each day during the holiday season can make you aware of small changes in your weight. If the numbers begin to drift up, take a deep breath and do something to change the trajectory. One of the best ways to get back on track is to record what you are doing. Writing down your food or entering it into a calorie-tracking app will give you a sense of control and can help you make better food decisions.
Plan for Events
Before you attend a gathering where food is a plenty, prioritize what goodies, if any, you want to sample. Don’t go to the event famished and if it is a pitch-in, take something healthy that you can enjoy. Personally, I almost always take a vegetable or fruit. If that sounds boring, prepare something out of the ordinary like a kumquat sesame slaw or a mango jicama salad. If you want recipe ideas, check out sparkpeople.com.
Refuse to Let the Holidays Stress You Out, Seriously
In most cases, our feelings of stress result from our perception of a situation. The good news is we have the ability to look at circumstances from different perspectives. When it comes to the holidays, why not choose to focus on why we celebrate and who we are thankful for rather than getting sucked into the commercial frenzy and the pressure of “getting everything done?” I know that sounds a bit trite, but you can do it.
About 15 years ago, I was sitting in holiday traffic on my way to the mall. I started to get worked up about all of the things I needed to buy for Christmas. I felt stressed--but then I realized how ridiculous that was. I’m celebrating love and peace on Earth and am getting worked up about buying a sweater for my brother? I’m thankful I have a great brother (and sister, too) and I decided to relish that while I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Comin' to Town while in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The sweater didn't really matter. Oh, and commit to exercising during the holidays--it makes staying cool, calm and collected much easier.
Watch out for Tins of Trash and Leftovers
If we only ate unhealthy at family gatherings or special events, most of us would survive the holidays without much change in our weight. What tends to be most problematic are the things that we have sitting around work or at home. For the most part, avoid keeping tins of anything at your house and don't keep unhealthy leftovers around. If it's at work, "accidentally" knock it off the counter and on to the floor--just kidding, kind of.
People not Plates
Stuffing your belly sometimes interferes with warming your soul. When you gather with family and friends engage in meaningful conversations or other activities that are enjoyable. Although food is pleasurable, nothing compares to having great interactions with people. Don’t let the focus on food get in the way of playing a game, telling a story, or getting to know friends or relatives better.
Happy Holidays to All!