Ways to Ward Off Holiday Weight Gain
- Each year we see it coming. As the
holidays head our way, we brace for the weight gain that often
results from the traditional sweets of the season. Many of us
gain a pound or two between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day,
according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development. What’s more, we rarely lose the extra weight
during the spring and summer, the New England Journal of
Fortunately, you can avoid those unwanted extra pounds with a
common sense approach to your health. With some expert advice,
it’s possible to stay fit as we face the season of bountiful
“It’s not an accident to be healthy,” says C. Howie Howard, a
health-conscious cook and student advisor at Brown Mackie
College in Kansas City, Kan. “Most people don’t realize how
food influences them.” For instance, when we eat fast food, we
tend to feel tired an hour later. This is because the typical
fast food meal contains high glycemic carbohydrates that break
down quickly, releasing a rush of glucose into the bloodstream,
which creates a feeling of sleepiness. Few of us link the meal
we ate to the way we feel. We think we’re just tired. “If you
listen to your body, it will become easier to discern how the
foods you eat make you feel,” Howard says.
As an experiment in recognizing how your body reacts to food,
Howard suggests eating a hard-boiled egg and fresh fruit for
lunch. An hour later, take note of your energy level. You won’t
feel the fatigue of a fast food “crash” because the
carbohydrates in these low glycemic foods break down slowly,
releasing glucose into the blood stream gradually. “The whole
idea is to find ways to eat that are both enjoyable and
satisfying,” he says.
Terry Harris, assistant director of admissions at Brown Mackie
College in Findlay, Ohio is a certified specialist in health,
fitness and nutrition. He ran a full-time personal fitness
training business in the Toledo/Perrysburg area of Ohio for
nearly a decade, and now offers nutrition consultations on a
part-time basis. “The first thing I tell clients is to relax.
Stress makes the chocolate attack worse,” Harris says.
“One thing you can do leading up to the holidays is focus on
your caloric intake each day.” Harris recommends eating meals
comprised of different colors, which helps to cover each food
group, with each serving about the size of your palm. “You
don’t have to deny yourself dessert. You can shave calories
from each meal to make room for it without consuming extra
calories,” Harris says.
Michael Baker, associate director of admission at Brown Mackie
College in North Canton, Ohio is an avid runner who took first
place in the Portage Lakes Triathlon in Akron, Ohio last
September. Baker stresses the importance of movement, and
offered tips on how to fit exercise into a busy schedule.
“When heading out to do holiday shopping, plan to park as far
away from the door as possible,” Baker says. “This relieves any
disappointment you may feel when the lot is crowded, and the
walk will do you good.” Baker also suggests exercising while
watching your favorite television shows. “You don’t have to go
to the gym to get yourself moving,” he says.
Ernest Angelini, business manager in the student services
department at Brown Mackie College in Louisville, Ky. agrees
that exercising doesn’t have to interrupt your schedule. “You
can do leg lifts at your desk while you work,” he says. “And
always take the stairs instead of the elevator.”
Angelini offers this advice for partygoers: “It’s best not to
go to a party hungry. Eat sensibly before arriving. You’re sure
to find delectable food, but keep in mind that the main reason
you’re there is to spend time with others. Taste the sweets,
but don’t gorge. Moderation is the key.”
Angelini has also come up with a clever way to ensure
self-control when faced with holiday goodies. “I always plan a
vacation to the sun belt after the holidays,” he says. Knowing
that you’ll soon don a swimsuit can do wonders for the
“moderation theory” when holiday temptation hits.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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