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Beat Holiday Weight Gain

Tuesday, 22 Nov 2011 03:49 PM


January is the traditional time to think about getting in shape, but that’s a bit like locking the barn door after the horse has run away. The best time to make some healthy plans is before the holiday eating season begins at Thanksgiving.

Athletes prepare for an event by eating in a way that helps them to perform more effectively. A similar approach can work well for anyone during the holidays.

Keep in mind that holiday weight gain isn’t caused by indulging at a few big meals or parties. Rather, extra pounds materialize as a result of eating more high-calorie foods than usual during a period lasting more than a month.

Weight-Gain Math

To gain one pound, an adult has to eat an additional 3,500 calories. It doesn’t matter whether those calories are consumed in a day, a week, or during a longer period. The time factor will simply influence how long it takes for the extra pound to appear.

As an example, let’s say someone gives you a batch of their special holiday cookies, which pack 250 calories per cookie. Most people aren’t likely to eat 14 of them (250 X 14 = 3500 calories) in one day. However, it may not be too difficult to eat two cookies in a day. Do that for a week, on top of eating your usual meals and snacks, and it adds up to 3,500 extra calories — a one-pound gain.

A gain of one pound per week for five weeks – the approximate time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day — adds up to five pounds. And that’s not an uncommon amount of holiday weight gain.

Anticipate Extra Calories

Extra holiday calories present themselves in many guises, but it isn’t realistic to continually try to stop yourself from enjoying seasonal foods. The stress factor alone wouldn’t be good for your health. Instead, try this:

• Consider yourself in training for special holiday meals and parties.
• Before Thanksgiving, keep treats out of your shopping cart, home, car, and office.
• Try to skip starchy and fried foods and cream sauces and, if you like dessert, have a tasty piece of fruit instead of cakes, puddings, pies, or ice cream.
• If you usually eat snacks, skip chips, pretzels, candy, and packaged cakes. If you’re truly hungry between meals, try an apple or some raw vegetables. If you’re still hungry, have a small handful of nuts, just enough to satisfy your hunger.
• To stay on track, remember that you’re training for an event, not giving up all your favorite foods forever.
• On Thanksgiving Day, have a light breakfast (you’re still in training).
• When you sit down to the big dinner, recognize that this is it — the starter’s pistol has been fired and the event has begun. Throw caution to the wind and just enjoy yourself. Eat as much as you want of the foods you like, including desserts. (But there’s no need to torture yourself with Aunt Agatha’s casserole that you hate.)
• The next day, recognize that the first event of the season is over and go back to eating light.
• Stay in training until the next event, enjoy that special meal or party, get back into training mode, and keep repeating the cycle.

Try doing this and by the time anyone starts singing “Auld Lang Syne,” you might well be in better shape than you were before Thanksgiving. And that’s a very good reason to celebrate!




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