average American usually gains about five pounds between Thanksgiving
and early January, according to the Duke Diet and Fitness
But Mohey Mowafy (HPER) says it is possible to
maintain weight and come out of the holidays without feeling as
stuffed as a turkey with blood as “rich” as eggnog.
lived in this lovely place for nearly three decades, I have become
familiar with our ritual of living the days and nights between Thanksgiving
and the New Year as one perpetual party celebrated with food, drinks
and friends,” Mowafy said. “Quite honestly, I would not want it
any other way, but I also know that many end up having to deal with
the wrath of food hangover, cloths that no longer fit, and pressing/depressing
wishes of going on a diet, which may indeed lower their weight but
will also add another stressor.”
offers a few simple guidelines for reasonable, sane, delightful,
and healthy holiday eating.
certainly do not have to follow them all, but you may want to pick
and choose those that best fit you and the way you live and eat,”
he adds. “And, as Julia used to say, Bon Appetit .”
- Don't try to diet. Your goal should
be to maintain weight, not lose it. Actually, it is a good idea
not to diet any time. The “dieting” industry is the only one I
know that is still in business despite a success rate of less
than 5 percent.
- A good, even, hearty breakfast is
truly as important as we all heard from our grandmas, so never
leave home without it.
- To avoid indulging in high-fat fast
food when your days become hectic, pre-plan several quick, healthy
meals and have them readily available for reheating. I know that
this doesn’t sound very exciting, but if you are willing to get
creative, those meals are willing to become mouth-watering treats.
- Don't try to cut out high-fat holiday
favorites like ... Do I really need to list examples? Totally
avoiding your favorites is not only unfair, it is unhealthy. Instead,
choose small portions and fill your plate with lower fat and less
sugary choices: apples, cranberry dishes, baked squash, pumpkin,
high fiber breads, pastas, yogurt dips, beans, more beans, lean
cold (or hot) meats, and glorious Lake Superior fish, for example.
- Eat something before going to an
event when alcohol will be served. The effects of alcohol are
felt much more quickly on an empty stomach and can lead to overeating
and overdrinking. Also try to drink one glass of water before
each glass of an alcoholic beverage.
- Offer to bring a favorite low-calorie
dish to holiday parties, so you know there will be at least one
"safe" item available. Arrive fashionably late and stand
far away from buffets so you're not tempted to nibble constantly.
Instead, indulge in conversation.
- Remember that that your genes may
have more to do with what, when and how much you eat than any
other factor. Part of that genetic magic is our ability to regulate
food intake so that our energy economy is never in the red. However,
it is now well established that the human body is more successful
in maintaining an appropriate weight by regulating satiety signals,
not hunger signals. Learn how to feel the subtle signals of satiety
(they start before the physical feeling of fullness sets in),
and always stop eating before you have that famous Thanksgiving
meal feeling that forces many of us to undo our belts so that
we can breathe.
- More important than anything, make
the effort to continue a regular activity program, even in the
midst of the holiday bustle. It is the best and most sure guarantee
to maintaining good health, irrespective of what weight you carry.
Twenty to 30 minutes of brisk walking four or five times a week
ought to do it. It is even much better if you add to your program
some stretching and some deep breathing exercises.
- And, finally, try to mindfully enjoy
every bite instead of just
going through the motions of eating.