It's that time of year again. Frost is in the air, the football season is in full gear and thoughts of the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year are becoming more frequent.
Some years back, it was said that you can expect to gain 5 to 7 pounds during this time of the year. Since we were expected to anyway, a lot of us figured ~ what the heck ~ gaining a little weight can always be turned into a New Year's Resolution to lose it. This 5 - 10 pounds holiday binge-out projection was changed a few years ago; it was 'trimmed' down to an 'average' 5 pounds weight gain BUT only for folks overweight to begin with.
So ~ here's the new facts for Overweight & Obesity Statistical Fact Sheet;
Adults ~ Among Americans age 20 and older, 154.7 million are overweight or obese (BMI of 25.0 kg/m2 and higher): They include: - 79.9 million men and 74.8 million women.
Of these, 78.4 million are obese (BMI of 30.0 - kg/m2 and higher): ~ 36.8 million men and 41.6 million women. Is there a good chance anyone reading here is in those stats?
Despite what many people believe, the average adult gains only about one (1) pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, according to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine. The news isn't all good, however. Other studies have shown that people who are overweight to begin with gain as much as 5 pounds on average this time of year and, in either case, it's tough to lose that holiday weight during the rest of the year.
The thing is that most people will not lose that one or two pounds and will keep it, especially if they are older (ie, anyone out of college). And those one to two pounds a year may hang on for a lifetime. Many 40 year olds will tell you that they are 10 pounds heavier than they were in high school. And they are the average weight people.
Bottom line: You may not be able to get into that little dress or those cool jeans on New Year's Eve that you bought during the Thanksgiving sale. Along with weight gain, there is some bloat from all the extra salt on prepared foods and dining out. Even more importantly, with all the emphasis lately on diabetes and obesity, it is sensible to curtail the amount of food you chow down during this holiday season.
So is there anything we can do to avoid extra poundage that wants to make themselves at home on you for life? Yes, there is.
- The first and most obvious to-do is exercise. If you are on a daily exercise program and are a good soldier, chances are you will keep up with your routine. If you are traveling or having a house full of company or eat out more than often, then you may not keep up with it as usual. It's important to move around, especially with all those cookies and goodies around. Try to take a walk for at least 10 minutes in the morning and again in the evening. Walk briskly; pump your arms; it will help keep your metabolism revved up, to work on those extra calories. A 30-minute walk is even better. And stay hydrated - drink water to help clean out your system.
- The second most obvious to-do is the fact that: As long as you take in fewer calories than you burn, you'll lose weight. You don't have to eat from every dish on the table or at a party. It is difficult because you want to sample everything, especially home baked goods. Try to choose from protein dishes - chicken, meats, fish, beans. Fill your plate with veggies - go easy on the dip. Forego the bread and butter and pasta dishes. And potatoes. Go easy on the carbs. Try to graze with your first-made plate; wait 20 minutes for your brain to tell you how full your stomach is - and you may not need that second (or third) plate. And as much as we don't want to think about it; yes, alcohol - wine, beer and mixed drinks do have calories in them. The more you drink, the more calories you'll take in.
- Dessert can be deadly and you don't need to 'have a taste of everything'. Someone (skinny, of course) once told me that "you only need one bite of dessert....that bite tells you what it tastes like and every bite after that is going to taste the same." Pick something you like (chocolate pudding is my vote here - I make it at home with skim milk) and bring it along as my dessert contribution). I notice all the thin ones go for the pudding instead of the tiramisu.
When I tried a popular diet, I was allotted 18 points ALL day. You can pick and choose what you eat and you CAN eat a satisfying, nutritious diet within those points. HOWEVER, one serving of tiramisu and one serving of fried calamari = 18 points - and would use up my all-day allotment of food! I don't eat tiramisu anymore but I love calamari - but like my skinny friend said -- after eating a few, they're all going to taste the same. Now I have a few and not a whole plate. Portion control is KEY. Even some fruits, in excess, can be fattening.
Another changed rule for dieting: they used to tell you to weigh yourself only once a week. Now they are saying that you should weigh every day and skinny down your diet if the scale is showing 1 or 2 pounds over your daily normal weight.
If you find that you overeat at one meal, neutralize your daily intake by cutting back at the other meals. A light breakfast of a poached egg on a light English muffin or a lunch of yogurt with fruit; or a cup of soup or a salad can help keep your calories in check. And it's good to cut back and give your system a digestive rest rather than overloading it at each meal. Use common sense.
If you indulge and enjoy more culinary delights than usual during the holiday season, don't be too hard on yourself. It is a time of joy, sharing and being with friends and family. Remember that you can always 'fix it' in January and February; if you watch out for the pitfalls above, you'll have less weight to lose!
© Marie Coppola Revised November 2016