*Reports of your holiday weight gain have been greatly exaggerated.
For many of us, the hustle and bustle of the holidays leads up to just one day: The big celebration. There will be friends, family, festivities … and food. Lots of food.
From the feasts of Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas right through to the last drop of champagne at New Years healthy, sensible eating habits are forgotten. Exercise routines are often disrupted with friends and family visits and travel. This excess weight puts an extra strain on the heart and joints. For seniors this weight gain is especially serious if they have an existing heart problem or high blood pressure. Every extra pound of weight forces the heart to work that much harder. If the heart has to pump harder the blood pressure will go up. For seniors with diabetes weight gain makes it much harder to maintain blood sugars in the normal range.
Americans probably gain about a pound during the winter holiday season-but this extra weight accumulates through the years and may be a major contributor to obesity later in life.
This finding runs contrary to the popular belief that most people gain from five to ten pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
The good news is that people don’t gain as much weight as we thought during the holidays. The bad news is that weight gained over the winter holidays isn’t lost during the rest of the year.
By definition, obesity is the accumulation of excess body fat.
With the exception of people who have very muscular builds, anyone who is 20% or more over their “ideal” weight is considered obese. This excess is made up of fat stores. Fat stores are designed to protect our organs and prevent starvation. Nature actually makes sure that we have fat stores because fat is the main source of energy. The problem with body fat comes in when our poor diet and/or lifestyles cause us to have an imbalance between the fat that is stored and the fat that is used for energy. Once this happens, the body’s ability to use fat for energy decreases. As you can imagine, eating fried foods, sweets, fast foods, and the like contributes greatly to this problem.
You might think that the solution is lots of hard exercise and a light diet. Wrong.
This will only cause the body to hold on to the fat stores for dear life and convert whatever else we eat to fat, because the body recognizes your wonderful exercise and dieting as starvation.
Your personal weight loss program should include:
- Your body must be cleansed of toxins that are stored in the fat cells. Once you begin your program, your body starts eliminating toxins as it breaks down fat cells and removes the wastes and fat deposits. During this process, the waste is eliminated faster that the new cells are made, and thus you will lose tissue weight that is not needed.
- Your cravings for salty foods and sweets must be squashed. Remember, those types of foods will upset the balance between the usage of fat for energy and the fat storage.
- Improve your appetite and unnatural hunger by increasing your intake of the proper nutrients. Eating good wholesome foods, and taking the “right” supplements will let you experience what it means to feel full after a normal meal, and prevent the tendency to “pig-out”.
- The burning of calories holds the key to safe and effective weight loss. You must increase the metabolism so that the calories that you consume are burned clean and efficiently just like a clean flame on a gas stove.
Keep in mind, that if the weight loss plan you undertake is to work, it must include these four key points.
How can you prevent weight gain, and still enjoy the social and family gatherings of the holiday season? It’s not as hard as you think according to most dieticians. With some planning you can make this a healthy and happy holiday season.
- Eat a substantial breakfast that includes protein. Protein takes longer to digest and helps you to feel full for much longer.
- If you are attending a potluck function make your contribution a healthy one. A simple mixed fruit or spinach salad is easy to make and carry.
- If you are attending a sit down dinner, let your host or hostess know in advance of any food restrictions you may have. If a friend or family member knows you are on a special diet beforehand it will make dinner a more pleasant experience.
- Don’t try to start a weight loss diet now. Save the diet for your new years resolution. If you cheat you may feel guilty and end up eating more.
- Include some time for exercise. Don’t just go to the mall to shop, go for some exercise also. Malls are wonderful places to walk, out of the elements and climate controlled. If time is limited try to park as far from your stop as you can.
Please don’t take this information as a License to be the “Holiday Food Police”. No one wants a killjoy at their holiday celebration or a family get-together. But when it comes to dealing with the temptations of the season’s high-calorie food offerings, you don’t have to be a Grinch.
You do need a plan.
The key to successfully navigating the holiday season for your family is to plan ahead by outlining a practical weight management strategy that doesn’t leave you and your children feeling deprived, but will help kids and their parents to avoid weight gain during the next couple of months. The good news is that adults and children alike can enjoy the wonderful foods of the holiday season as long as they do so in moderation.
Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.
Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!
The information included in this column is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.
Glenn Ellis, is a Health Advocacy Communications Specialist. He is the author of Which Doctor?, and is a health columnist and radio commentator who lectures, and is an active media contributor nationally and internationally on health related topics.
His second book, “Information is the Best Medicine”, is due out in Fall, 2011.
For more good health information, visit: www.glennellis.com.