It's that time of year again! The air is turning crisp, the days are shorter, and the holidays are advancing upon us. Nothing sounds better than savory roasts, sweet desserts and hot beverages to warm the body and soul.
The last thing any of us wants to think about is healthy eating and the weight gain that seems inevitable during the holiday season, but...
Winter is a many-faceted obstacle when it comes healthy eating. The temperatures and lack of sunlight discourage physical activity, richer, more sugary foods seem to lie in wait around every corner, and many experience what they call the "Winter Blues".
Holiday weight gain makes up the largest percentage of annual weight gain for an individual and typically is not lost before the next time the holidays roll around. It has also been shown that those who are already overweight are at the highest risk for additional weight gain through the holidays.
Let's discuss several things to consider during this goodie-filled season that may help prevent the extra pounds:
1. Sugar - Cookies, cakes, pies and all that goodness. Through recent research sugar has quickly been getting a horrifying reputation for its effects on our health, but more specific to this topic, according to Robert Lustig at the Center for Obesity Assessment, "...sugar dampens the suppression of the hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger to the brain. It also interferes with the normal transport and signaling of the hormone leptin, which helps to produce the feeling of satiety." So, sugar encourages the hormone that makes you feel hungry and prevents the action of the hormone that helps you feel full.2 Consider using honey when you prepare sweets; honey is sweeter than cane sugar and less is required for same amount of sweetness. Honey is also much gentler on your blood sugar levels which reduces its effects on your satiety hormones3 and it comes with the added benefit of vitamins and minerals.
2. Water - While the sweat-inducing temperatures of summer are gone we still need to be conscious of our water intake through the winter. Not only is water vital for pretty much everything our body does in general, there is evidence that drinking water stimulates the metabolism. Just 2 cups of water was found to the metabolic rate by 30% in both men and women.4 Try drinking a glass of water before your meals!
3. Alcohol - Not only does drinking alcohol add calories itself, but according to one study, the consumption of alcohol before a meal stimulated people to consume 24% more high-fat savory foods.5 Why not unwind with your drink after the meal is finished to prevent overeating?
- It's cold, wet, and dark. We'd like nothing more than to just curl up at home and munch on Christmas cookies and drink egg nog. Activity levels in the winter decline dramatically for most people.
With all these delicious foods appearing before us though, it is a terrible time to become a couch potato.
1. Stevenson, J L, et al. "Effects Of Exercise During The Holiday Season On Changes In Body Weight, Body Composition And Blood Pressure."
European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition 67.9 (2013): 944-949. Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 Nov. 2015. Web
2. Lustig, Robert H., Laura A. Schmidt, and Claire D. Brindis. "The Toxic Truth about Sugar."
Nature 482.7383 (2012): 27-9. ProQuest. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
3. Shambaugh P., Worthington V., and Herbert JH. "Differential Effects of Honey, Sucrose, and Fructose on Blood Sugar Levels."
Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 13.6 (1990): 322-5. Print.
4. Brown CM, Dulloo AG, Montani JP (September 2006). "Water-induced thermogenesis reconsidered: the effects of osmolality and water temperature on energy expenditure after drinking".
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 91 (9): 3598-602.
5. Ilse C. Schrieks, Annette Stafleu, Sanne Griffioen-Roose, Cees de Graaf, Renger F. Witkamp, Rianne Boerrigter-Rijneveld, Henk F.J. Hendriks. "Moderate alcohol consumption stimulates food intake and food reward of savoury foods".
Appetite. Volume 89. 1 June 2015. Web.
6. Pivarnik JM, Reeves MJ, and Rafferty AP. "Seasonal Variation in Adult Leisure-Time Physical Activity."
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 35.6 (2003): 1004-8. Print.