Breads, Casseroles And Desserts... Oh My!

By Rebecca Gomez, Psy. D

Yep, the holidays once again presented parties and tables full of foods and drinks that are oh-so-enticing. If head hunger tended to win more battles than our weight-management-oriented mind, now’s a great time to review your battles and plan for the new year.

Studies in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Nutrition Reviews show on average for Americans, weight gain during the six-week winter period from Thanksgiving through the new wear is only one pound. However, weight gain is greater among individuals who are overweight or obese, averaging five pounds. In addition, among the entire population, weight gain during the six-week holiday season explained 51 percent of annual weight gain that does not go away over time.

Why does this happen? Well, during this time of year, we tend to eat and drink more, but exercise a lot less. And let’s face it, the foods and drinks we tend to consume around the holidays are high calorie, high fat items. According to WebMD, the average American consumes approximately 4,500 calories and 229 grams fat from eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (doesn’t include breakfast, lunch or late night snacking on leftovers).

So how can you survive the holidays year-round without missing out on some of those traditional food items, or feeling out of place at parties? Here are a few survival tips for 2015:

Know your triggers. If you know you are going to be triggered by a food or situation, do what you can to minimize the effects of the trigger.
Know your degree of self control. If you can eat before going to a party and have the discipline not to nibble on the foods while there, great! Go for it. If you do not have the self discipline, plan ahead.
Plan ahead. You know that you will eat something decadent this holiday season, so plan ahead and acknowledge that you will be having some of those foods that are once-in-a-blue-moon foods.
Follow the 3 Bite Rule. Remember, it takes three bites to satisfy a craving! So if you spy a few dishes at the table that you want to try, pick your top three items and get yourself a small spoonful of each.
Eat Mindfully. I know you all have heard this a time or two, but I repeat it because it is important! If you can bring your attention to what and how you are eating, you will eat less, enjoy food more, and will be less likely to eat something that doesn’t taste good (and therefore isn’t worth the calories).
Listen to your body signals. Tune into your signals of hunger and satiety to guide your eating before, during and after the party. Being either famished or already full when you arrive sets you up for being uncomfortably full when you leave.
Practice how you will handle food pushers or questions about your eating habits. Remember that another person cannot possibly tell you how hungry you are or what food you would enjoy or are in the mood for.
Do NOT stand and socialize in the room with the food. Once you are done with your plate of food, pick up a glass of water, move away from the table and mingle.
Avoid the Eat-Repent-Repeat cycle. Get back on track once you recognize that you have gone off course!
Forgive yourself if you do overdo it!
Don’t forget to exercise! Schedule a session with your personal trainer or work out buddy the next morning to burn off any extra calories that slipped by your radar.
Practice self-care. Choose activities that are the most meaningful to you, stay active and schedule time to relax and enjoy the holidays!
Do not forget your daily self-care routines (exercise, vitamins, supplements, etc).

Need help with your new year’s plan? Gwinnett Medical Center can help. GMC’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center offers several tools including one-on-one nutrition consultations, Diet by Design, metabolism testing and more. The Center for Weight Management offers both medical and surgical weight-loss programs. Plus GMC has helpful tools, calculators and educational information online:

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