5 Ways to Conquer Holiday Over Eating
If you’ve come through the holiday season without gaining weight you’re in the minority. Research suggests a large percentage of most of our life-long weight gain occurs during the six weeks of the holiday season.
Studies show most people don’t gain weight suddenly over a few weeks or months. Rather the scales inch up in small increments over years – with that gain spiking dramatically over the holiday season.
The good news is the amount gained is not that great – on average about a pound each year between Thanksgiving and New Year. But the bad news is this weight is usually never lost, but just gradually expands, so that over the long term it is a major contributor to obesity.
It’s easy to understand how this occurs. Over the six weeks of socialising and merry making we are easy targets for all of the factors that contribute to what obesity expert Stephan Guyenet dubs “unintentional over eating.””
The things that lead to us unintentionally overeating are all the things that ensured our cave man ancestors never had a problem with obesity.
It’s almost true to say that the things that make foods particularly appealing to us are also the things that make them the most fattening.
What Makes Fattening Food Irresistible?
The key factors for making food extra attractive to us are all things that mesh with holiday celebrations. They are:
- High palatability – translated as just plain Yummy – high in sugar, salt, fat, starch, high calorie load and low toxicity – all things we have an innate preference for
- Variety – when we have a choice of lots of different foods we tend to eat more – and what happens over Christmas and New Year? The dining table is laden with lots of little tempting “extras” just asking to be tasted.
- Minimal cost or effort to gather it – OK so we have to work and shop to get food – and that takes some effort on the part of the cook – but it’s a world away from having to stalk your meat on four hooves and then carry it home on your back, or even roam the valleys collecting berries and wild greens
- Friends to eat with: Research shows we eat more when we are with friends. Eating a meal with several people can increase calorie intake by up to 72%, or 310 calories in a single meal. There are also studies showing that people tend to eat more during weekends.
Five Tips To Counteract Overeating
So with all these danger factors setting the scene for over eating, how can we resist the temptation to over feed?
- Have a “party plan.”When attending a party, offer to bring a plate. Arriving armed with chopped fresh veggies and a low-fat dip — or any other low-calorie snack — ensures that you’ll have something to snack on without feeling guilty. If you are eating out choose from the most healthy options on the menu.
- Up your protein (a little).Research suggests that protein prolongs the feeling of fullness better than carbohydrates or fats do. Studies in Scotland, Denmark, Sweden and England found that people who ate a high-protein breakfast or lunch were less hungry at their next meal. Protein also requires a few more calories to digest. So even when out socialising try and choose protein whenever you can over carbs.
- Take one-third off.When you eat dinner out, reduce the temptation to clean your plate by setting aside one-third of your meal. Ask the server for a doggie bag, and take it home for lunch the next day. Try serving yourself one-third less at home too. This simple tactic could subtract more than 500 calories a day.
- Monitor your stress levels. Research shows we tend to overeat when we are stressed or bored – and sometimes being thrust around the table with your ex and the sister in law who gets under your skin can be enough to push the button on indulgent eating. Even being aware of the possibility can help you control it. If you find yourself in this situation try a “Count to Ten” strategy. Studies show most cravings to impulse eat only last ten minutes. Try distracting yourself by getting up to have a dance or taking a stroll around the garden before dipping into the potato chip bowl.
- Drink lots of water. If you are partying match each glass of alcohol with a glass of water. Drink a couple of glasses of water before you go out to dine. Water helps you feel full and also optimises your metabolism to cope with all that party food you are consuming.
Taking Off Holiday Weight Gain
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