Healthy Eating: Staying on Track During the Holiday Season
by Nick A. Titley, M.S., NPI-Certified Posture Specialist
The holidays - arguably the most festive times of the year where we spend time with family, friends and loved ones. Overeating during this time of the year is the norm and is accompanied by weight gain and bad nutritional habits. If you’re worried about staying on track during the holiday season then please keep reading.
Let’s face it; sometimes the holidays bring out the worst in us. We binge and slack off on our good eating habits. It’s difficult to skip all the goodies and equally more challenging to avoid seconds. The National Health Service (NHS) Choice website, a healthcare based organization, explains that food can be fattening if you’re overeating regardless of whether your diet is low in fats or carbs and urges you to pay attention to how much you’re eating in one sitting.
The Go Ask Alice website, an affiliate of Columbia University, says 3,500 calories equals one pound of body weight. That means if you consume 3,500 extra calories at your meal time you would gain a pound. That’s it you ask? You would expect worse news from the dreaded holiday weight gain. However, the issue is overconsumption and consistently eating more than necessary. While we’re encouraged to be merry, the holidays are no excuse to binge.
Have you ever needed to add: ‘need to go to the gym to lose my holiday weight,’ to your New Year’s resolution list? This could be avoided if better care is taken during the holiday season. If you’re debating whether you should consistently skip meals to make room for what’s coming, think again. I turned to Registered Dietitian, Rachel Reeves, to discuss why.
“Skipping meals may lead to increased cravings and folks making poor choices. There are people who report eating right after getting home, because they are so hungry after skipping lunch or having a small lunch. They end up eating a large amount of calories before dinner,” Rachel says. “Eating regularly can help some people better monitor their intake to prevent overeating in the future.”
You may have heard that losing the extra weight is as simple as cutting 3,500 calories weekly. However, Rachel explains that the rule of thumb was first mentioned in 1958 and that there’s new information regarding your metabolism. “The amount of energy (calories) it takes to lose weight changes over time and it's not as simple as 3,500 calories per pound.”
Should you give up on your favorite holiday treats? Absolutely not, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website says that healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods, but the key is to consistently eat healthier foods and stay physically active during the season.
Rachel suggests you be strategic when attending gatherings. “If there are multiple appetizers or drinks at a party keep track of how much you are consuming. For example: Keeping the wrappers from candy, chicken wing bones, or wine glasses provides you with an accurate visual count of what you've already eaten,” Rachel says. Pre-portioning snacks and setting limits prior to gatherings and creating goals of how much you’re planning to eat are also winning strategies. Rachel also suggests pacing yourself with the slowest eater and keeping the non-starchy vegetable dishes on the table out front to promote their consumption.
So what’s the take away? Pay attention to how much you’re consuming and maintain the habit of proper eating during the holiday seasons. If you’re attending dinners and family gatherings then planning ahead is your best option. Understand that even though you can’t ruin your diet over a few meals, you must resist the temptation to consistently consume more calories just because of the time of year.
The holiday season is a special time where we celebrate. People use the holidays as their excuse to consume more calories than necessary and then feel guilty after. By planning prior to the meals, enjoying the time with family and getting back on track after, you’ll have no reason to feel guilty and you’ll be back to your healthy diet in no time.
How many calories does it take to lose a pound? (2001, March 9). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/how-many-calories-does-it-take-lose-one-pound.
Eight tips for healthy eating. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2015, from nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/eight-tips-healthy-eating.aspx.
Reeves, Rachel Personal interview. 15 September 2015.
Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight. (2015, November 9). Retrieved November 25, 2015, from cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/index.html.