If something is repeated often enough, it is regarded as true. Case in point is the 8- to 10-pound holiday weight gain. Media doctors and self-proclaimed health experts are sounding the alarm about holiday food bombardment.
The notion that most people gain a lot of weight over the holidays is false. To gain 10 pounds in one month would mean eating an extra 1,100 calories a day. The only solid research on this topic is a New England Journal of Medicine study from 2000 that found a 1-pound weight gain over the holiday season.
This good news has a downside. That pound stayed with the study participants throughout the year. Creeping weight gain is a common pattern in adults, and the holiday pound could be a contributor.
To keep the happy and healthy in the holidays, I offer a few of my favorite tips:
Stay mindful. Enjoy the appearance and aroma of the food before making your dining choices. Focus on savoring the flavor of every mouthful. Eat what you love and don’t feel pressure to clean your plate if you’re full.
Start a meal with salad. This boosts intake of healthy vegetables and leads to satiation with a reasonable amount of food.
Don’t multitask at mealtime. Stop eating when having a dinner conversation. Enjoying the company of those around you is a great way to slow down eating and allow the message of fullness to travel from your stomach to your brain.
Step away from the serving plates. Fill your plate and find your spot. Standing near the food leads to mindless munching.
Watch the beverages. Alcoholic drinks not only have calories but are known to replace common sense with a sense of abandon. Have a club soda with a twist between the cocktails.
Eat a light snack before an event. Going to a party starving is a path to overeating.
Stay mindful and enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.