Holiday celebrations with food

  • Published
  • By Col. Allison Bowden
  • 45th Medical Group
Many holidays, celebrations and family and cultural traditions often center on food. As a result, many people gain weight between Thanksgiving and the New Year. The problem is not that we celebrate and over indulge, but how we eat.

It's the tempting treats during the holiday season and the pressure from family, friends and co-workers to overeat. Maybe it's the increased emotional eating, whether from holiday stress or joy.

It is not necessary to avoid holiday festivities in an attempt to maintain your weight. Watching your portions and your calories is not enough. Make time for exercise in your schedule -- walk around the neighborhood after dinner.

For those who every year lose weight but then gain it all back during the holidays, we should focus on weight maintenance versus weight loss. If you are currently overweight and are trying to lose weight, the holiday season is not the time to do it. Don't set yourself up for failure, make realistic goals.

It is well known that restrictive diets don't work in the long run; knowledgeable dieters know metabolism slows down when calories are restricted. What all of this means is, when calories are scarce, the body goes into survival mode and makes every calorie count. It starts handling the food you eat more sufficiently to protect its fat stores.

Take steps to avoid recreational eating. While some foods are more calorie-dense than others, no food will make you gain weight unless you eat too much of it. At parties and holiday dinners, we tend to keep eating beyond our body's physical hunger simply because food is there and eating is a "social thing."

To avoid recreational eating, consciously make one plate of the food you really want. Eat it slowly -- enjoying and savoring every tasty bite -- get a glass of water and sip it throughout the evening.

Eat up and enjoy the holiday season, but remember to go back to healthy eating and regular exercise after the holidays. If you need more information, contact your local health and wellness center.