By Nina Hasemann, RD, LDN from the Newtown Athletic Club
For most Americans, the holidays mean eating great food – and lots of it! Indulging in the different delectible sides and desserts leaves us with unecessary weight gain and a New Year’s Day resolution to lose weight.
That being said, why not take a healthier approach to what we eat during this holiday season and beyond?
Research from the New England Journal of Medicine found that people’s perceived weight gain varied between 0 and 6.7 pounds with an average of 3.5 pounds. Their actual weight gain was just under 1 pound.
So what does this mean? In reality, the “holiday weight gain” between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day is nothing to panic over. Don't worry: it’s nice to be able to avoid it, but it’s not a catastrophe if you can't! In many cases, this gain is just a bit of extra inflammation from being out of your normal routine verses actual fat gain. Overall, it’s more than just the research, it's about how you handle the holiday season for yourself.
For those that do gain more than the estimated 1 pound, you may be wondering what triggers weight gain in certain individuals during the holidays:
- Stress: Holiday commitments mean stress and stress means comfort eating...and nobody comfort-eats celery sticks! Cortisol (the stress hormone) may lead to weight gain in some individuals since it slows metabolic rate, but in some also leads to overeating.
- Broken routines: Traveling means you spend a lot of time sitting, you get thrown off your regular exercise routine, and you aren’t always in control of your food.
- Social pressure: The holidays are a time of year to relax, spend time with friends and family, and eat what you want. That is until Uncle Bob hands you one more drink and Grandma acts heartbroken when you turn down a 3rd cookie. So, what should you do?
1. Place Nothing Off Limits
When a food is off-limits, it becomes much more appealing. And if guilt is involved and you do end up eating that food, the "Screw it, I've already had a bite and ruined everything so I'm going to eat the entire party and have a thousand cocktails" mentality kicks in.
2. Be Mindful
Many traditional holiday eating tips are diet oriented. Denying oneself access to favorite foods can lead to overeating (or binging), stress, uncomfortable feelings, and other emotions that can lead to comfort eating.
3. Stop when you’re satisfied, not stuffed
This goes hand in hand with being mindful and listening to your body when it tells you that you’re full. The key here is to eat slowly. Take pauses and enjoy the conversation with those you surround yourself with this holiday season.
4. Last but certainly not least.. Don’t feel guilty!
If you’re looking to learn more about holiday eating, what to do with your leftovers, or you just want some holiday recipes to take home, I will be teaching free seminars this holiday season! As the NAC's Registered Dietitian, it is my mission to help you learn the best ways to navigate the holidays so that you are feeling your absolute best. Join me at these upcoming seminars:
Saturday, December 16th @ 10:00 AM or Wednesday, December 20th @ 5:30 PM
Sign up on the app or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to see you there!