Hey Angels and Alphas,
Some new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine discovered participants (people who weren’t training for weight loss) started gaining weight in October and continued seeing small but incremental gains in their weight through the New Year. The realistic weight gain was minimal – about 1.3 pounds – but it took them, on average, about five months to lose. In other words, if you’re not actively training, eating some extra pumpkin pie now might affect whether your spring wardrobe fits!
Today, we’re here to talk about five surprising reasons why it’s difficult to avoid extra calories during the holidays… and a few strategies for staying on track:
#1 DINNERS ARE BIG, SOCIAL EVENTS
The holiday season is all about gathering around the table and sharing a meal with your close ones. And some recent research presented at the American Heart Association actually found that the chance of a diet lapse was much, much higher when meals were consumed in social settings, in which meal sizes increased up to 40 percent.
Here’s the fix: before you help yourself to seconds (or even thirds,) take some time to chat with your neighbors. This will help you slow down and recognize you might be fuller than you think. You can also employ a few mindful eating strategies.
#2 DECLINING DESSERT
You might be led to believe passing on the cookies and cakes will help you keep the number on the scale from going up, but some dietitians believe that it might be a mistake to turn down sweets.
Choosing healthier desserts when you really want a slice of your family’s old-fashioned pecan pie could leave you feeling unsatisfied and craving even more dessert later on. Instead, go ahead and grab a slice of that pie and cake – just make sure it’s not both.
#3 NAVIGATE ALL THE TOASTS
Although a glass of red wine is just about 120 calories, and has been associated with a variety of health benefits, including increasing good cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease, one wine glass could have an unintended ripple effect.
Being in a celebratory mood (and the added alcohol consumption that usually occurs during the holiday season) might lead to more reduced inhibitions and a stronger desire to eat more of your favorite foods as you tend to limit yourself the rest of the year.
Make sure you imbibe in moderation and sip on a glass of water regularly so you’re always staying hydrated.
#4 WATCH YOUR PLATES
Did you know the size of the average dinner plate has increased 23 percent in the last 100 years? And the bigger the plate, the more likely you are to fill it up. You’ll eat, on average, 30 percent fewer calories if you scoop some holiday favorites onto a smaller plate.
If you look at a plate that’s half empty, you might feel less satisfied. But by filling a small plate completely, you can trick yourself into thinking you’re eating more and therefore feel more satisfied. This was discovered by a study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.
#5 YOU PLAN ON STICKING TO A DIET
Studies have shown that it’s common to consume more than 3,000 calories during your typical holiday meal, but even so, making the decision to stick to a strict diet from Thanksgiving all the way to New Year is definitely a mistake. Any time you focus on food by identifying it as something to avoid, you are making it more desirable.
You give more thought to all the off-limit foods that you could have otherwise, all of which could lead to feelings of deprivation… and you know where that cycle ends up.
But there’s a fix here. You might actually benefit by a short break from all the calorie counting. Some studies have even linked a diet break to helping dieters lose more weight.
So go ahead and celebrate the season but don’t forget to exercise moderation. Having a choice to eat whatever you want without cheating or restriction will help you foster a healthier relationship with food that includes less guilt and more genuine nourishment.