With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, we are officially in the #EatDrinkAndGainWeight season, aka. the HOLIDAYS. Not to be a buzz-kill, because believe me, I LOVE December. Baking and eating our family’s traditional cookies, pies, and candied nuts invoke a warm hug from my mom in heaven, bringing back comforting smells, sights, and tastes. For me, the extra “calories in” are worth the additional time and effort I will have to carve out to walk the dogs or climb on the elliptical machine to to balance the equation. And yes, I’ll admit that it does seem harder each year!
We used to take as gospel truth that the average American gains 5-7 pounds during the holidays, but more recent studies suggest smaller amounts of 1-2 pounds. Should we celebrate? Probably not. My take is that New Years Resolutions simply focus our attention on health matters we ignore the rest of the year. Every January is stuffed with our patients’ collective sigh (or explicative!) of frustration on the dreaded step of our hallway scale. While we can quibble over how much weight gain occurs when, the bottom line is that our American bottom line is steadily super-sizing. 39.8% of us (adults) are obese, and the majority of us (70.1%) are overweight (including those who’s BMI falls in the obese category). There’s a reason WEIGHT LOSS is the most common NYE resolution. While we each have our own cosmetic ideals, medically what’s important is avoiding weight-related disease complications like diabetes, hypertension, knee pain and even many cancers.
Since I’m all about PREVENTION, here are 7 Simple Strategies to tip your scale in the right direction:
- FILL FESTIVE CONTAINERS with fresh fruit or nuts rather than setting out your favorite holiday chocolates on your kitchen counter, break room or desktop. Save your favorite candy for the actual
- Add some PROTEIN or FAT to a pure carbohydrate snack to avoid the blood sugar spike and subsequent crash and cravings (so have a handful of nuts or small piece of cheese with that apple)
- Healthily FLAVORED WATER is much more enticing for most dedicated soda/coffee/tea drinkers, so keep a knife next to your basket of oranges/lemons/limes and throw in a few slices to add appeal!
- STEP on the SCALE and own it. I’m not asking you to obsessively weigh yourself, but weighing ONCE per WEEK is often the reality check many of us need* (unless you have an eating disorder, in which case scales may be an unnecessary trigger.)
- LIQUID CALORIES COUNT– alcohol flowing freely at most holiday parties can hugely ramp up your KCAL count, especially with unmeasured pours (that are really at least two servings at a time) and those top-off refills into only half empty glasses from generous hosts (keeping you unaware of how much you’ve actually consumed.) Check out this NIH Alcohol Calorie Counter for your fav beverage.
- WALK and TALK– when a friend texts to meet for coffee or drinks, suggest meeting where you can walk and chat before, after or instead!
- HEALTHY GIFT GIVING– For the 70% of us who are working hard to manage our weight, say NO to the overflowing treat baskets and Starbucks cards (see liquid calories above^^) and consider non-caloric pampering alternatives with manicures, comfy socks/clothes, soothing scents, etc. Or a new activity (what would you do as a visitor in your home town?) Or an awesome BOOK (like suspenseful novels to raise your heart rate? Try Jeff Abbott’s newest book!) Or music. Or a card game. You’ve got this!
BOTTOM LINE: Mindfully enjoy your holidays treats and START HEALTHY HABITS NOW that will tip the scales in your favor for 2019!