By Jason Bessey, DOIt’s that time of year again: holiday parties, quality time with family and friends and, of course, all of the delicious food! Sugar cookies at the office…pies at the family Christmas party…basically, sweets everywhere you look! So, it’s no surprise that most American adults gain 1-2 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. This weight gain might not seem extreme but, as many studies have shown, these pounds are often not lost throughout the year. And when you think about 2 pounds of weight gain each year over 10-15 years, this cumulative holiday “growth” certainly plays a role in our obesity epidemic.
If you’d like to steer clear of holiday weight gain this year, here are a few tips:
- Eat ahead of time – Never show up to a party starving. Before leaving for a holiday gathering, I suggest snacking on healthy food and drinking lots of water.
- Holidays are more than just food – Sometimes it’s best to just avoid sweets altogether. Focusing on enjoying the company of loved ones and staying away from the treat table can be an effective strategy.
- Portion control – Keep track of what you are eating: set a limit on pieces of candy, allow yourself a single slice of your favorite pie, count calories – whatever works for you to keep yourself accountable. Avoid going back for seconds and try eating from a smaller plate.
- Restrict alcohol – Self-control is important in reducing holiday overeating, and alcohol decreases that self-control. If you feel out of place without a drink in hand, opt for water, coffee or tea instead of beer, liquor or wine.
- Limit sweets – Pick the best of the best. For me, this is my mom’s toffee and grandma’s fudge, hands down. I know that I cannot say no these delicious treats. But the rest I can pass on. So, this year I plan to spend my “indulgence calories” on toffee and fudge.
- Give yourself reminders – A 1999 study of holiday weight gain determined that healthy-eating reminders really work. One set of study participants was sent daily messages about sticking to healthy eating habits and avoiding holiday-treat temptations. The other group received no notifications. Guess what: the “reminder group” actually lost weight over the holidays! So, consider daily email prompts to stick with healthy eating habits or post reminders throughout your house.
Good luck and happy holidays!
This weekly sponsored column is written by Jason Bessey, DO, a physician at Shawnee Mission Primary Care – Blue Valley. Dr. Bessey and his wife, Lauren Bessey, DO, are passionate about overall wellness and they treat patients of all ages at their south Johnson County office. SMPC-Blue Valley is temporarily located inside Centra Care Shawnee Mission Urgent Care near 135th & Antioch; in March, the practice will move to Shawnee Mission Health’s new Overland Park campus near 159th & 69 Highway. To make an appointment with either Dr. Jason or Dr. Lauren, visit SMPC-Blue Valley’s website or call the office at 913-373-2230.