When it comes to protecting our hearts, there is much we can do through diet. We are becoming more aware than ever that it is the type of dietary fat, rather than the total amount of fat, that affects health.
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Many of us think that once the holiday season hits, there is no way we can win against an 8-week barrage of holiday feasting from Halloween until the New Year. So we resign ourselves from the start and let go of all our good habits. But don’t give up on yourself or your waistline! We can be in the spirit without packing on the pounds.
I took an unscientific poll in the office and asked co-workers: “how much weight do you think people gain, if any, over the holiday season?"
The answers ranged from 2 to 15 pounds with the average number at 6.5 pounds. Well, luckily the results of my pseudo poll were way off.
As it turns out, Americans gain an average of 1.32 pounds (0.6 kg) according to a study published in September 2016 in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study looked at weight gain over the holidays in three countries: Germany, Japan, and the United States. Americans participating in the study saw their weight increase by 0.2 percent during the Thanksgiving holiday and 0.4 percent over Christmas. Another study from 2000, in the same journal, found that the average holiday gain minimum was 1 pound (0.48kg). A look at studies over the last decade yielded similar results, demonstrating holiday weight gain is less than commonly asserted. Therefore, I remain optimistic for our waistlines between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
So what’s the problem?
Weight gain, even a little, is still weight gain that takes time and effort to come off. Although up to half of holiday weight gain is lost shortly after the holidays, the other half seems to remain until the summer months and sometimes beyond. Year after year, that weight can add up, not including any weight gain that occurs the rest of the year. So as hard as it is to resist the extra piece of pie or prevent weight gain during the holiday season, remember, it is much harder to lose it later.
Weight gain is not inevitable
Stay focused on all the healthy habits you have been working on the rest of the year. Here are some quick and familiar reminders from past blogs to get you through the holiday season:
- Eat complex carbohydrates with fiber, lean proteins, and healthy plant fats
- Be physically active on most days of the week – make it a priority
- Watch portion sizes – Ex: select small serving dishes
- Make traditions healthy with some smart recipe substitutes
- Be prepared ahead of time with meal and snack prep – Ex: Eat something healthy before going out to a holiday party or bring healthy options to the party
- Stay social, but not by the food table – talk more, eat less by making food less accessible
- Eat consciously, no mindless eating
- Skip the leftovers
- Watch the alcohol – these are empty calories
- Find a buddy – build a support system
The most recent study assessing weight gain in three countries concluded with the recommendation that the less one gains, the less one then has to worry about trying to lose it. I am going to agree with the researchers on this one! Check out this month’s blog to learn more on how to enjoy the holidays without packing on the pounds.
Lela Iliopoulos is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator and an expert in nutrition therapy, health promotion, and education. She is passionate about impacting nutritional health through the practical application of science-based information
Back-to-school season conjures up awesome memories of my sisters and me buying our school supplies that—of course—had to be color coordinated to our folders (Trapper Keepers) and notebooks. Do kids do that anymore? Anyway, back to school also means back to structured schedules, hurried mornings, and school lunches.
There is some debate on the power of breakfast to boost metabolism and/or promote weight loss. There is more evidence in support of breakfast to help us burn calories throughout the day. Researchers have found that people who eat breakfast do tend to be thinner than those who don’t. When looking at the most successful weight loss stories and those individuals who maintain their weights, one common factor seems to be that they eat breakfast.
If you think carbs are all wasted calories and bad for you, think again. Here is just one more reason to love bread, as if its deliciousness weren’t enough. Australian scientists found that the fiber in bread, cereals, and fruits helped people avoid disease and disability in old age. Their findings have been published in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.
Summer brings on a welcome array of fresh flavors and foods to savor. After all, it is grilling season and who doesn’t love warm weather and a BBQ? To enjoy family and friends while firing up the grill in the back yard and eating outdoors without worrying about your weight, follow some simple rules for smart eating during summer gatherings.
Carbohydrates always seem to get a negative reputation. There are so many common misconceptions about carbohydrates, and it can be hard to keep in mind that carbs are good for us as part of a nutritious and balanced diet. To that end, I’ve gathered some common myths about carbohydrates that I hear all the time.
Whatever your destination or mode of travel, it’s challenging to eat well while on the road. Inhibitions go down, routines are broken, the schedule is out the window, food options are limited, and then there are those wait times that make us eat mindlessly.
So how do we stay on course with a nutritious diet while hitting the road?
A lifestyle of healthy eating isn’t just good for your body; it’s also essential for good brain function. Some fad diets may warn against grains and carbohydrates, but it’s important to remember that grains are a source of protein, vitamin B2, and zinc.
I understand someone wanting to get their blood sugar and diabetes under control and even prevent diabetes. I am all for it, and part of my job is helping people attain those self-management skills for long-term blood sugar and weight control for good health. However, food and carbs are not the enemy.
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2016 found that 92 percent of restaurant meals exceed the recommended calorie requirements for a meal. In some instances the calories in one meal exceeded the recommended intake for a whole day. Does this mean we stop eating out?
Carbohydrates are good for your brain! There is no better source of carbs than grains, and breads, tortillas, rolls, and buns don’t make up nearly the daily caloric intake that they get blamed for. So don’t buy into the fad of low-carb diets.
Bread provides so many nutrients that are essential to a healthy diet, and more and more Americans are realizing the importance of a diet rich in whole grains.
What you eat before and after a workout can be just as important as the workout itself. Without the proper pre- and post- nutrition, you may be inadvertently sabotaging your fitness efforts by not allowing your body to work to its fullest potential with the proper fuel. So get the most out of your workouts with these tips on when and what to eat
As more definitions and categories for fiber emerge, it is getting confusing for us to know what to eat and what actually counts toward to our daily fiber intake. Most of us are familiar with fiber being either soluble or insoluble, but we can never seem to remember the differences between the two. The important thing to note is that both are good for you.
Calories count, but so does the quality of the food we are eating. So if you’re trying to manage your weight, go ahead and cut calories, but also choose the right foods in order to eat a combination of all three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Is going "gluten free" connected to weight loss? Here's what Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Lela Iliopoulos has to say.
10 ways to eat smart over the holidays