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Holiday Eating And Weight Loss Done Right

Armen Hareyan's picture

As the holidays approach, many of us get that sinking feeling, wondering "Will I be able to stick to my weight loss plan in the face of so much temptation?" First, the good news: Government surveys report that the average weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year's is just over one pound (although overweight individuals tend to gain up to five pounds).

Now, the bad news: Whatever weight you gain over the holidays is likely to stick with you. According to the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gained during the winter festivities. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain a contributing factor in the obesity epidemic.

Consider these numbers:

350: The average number of calories in an eight-ounce serving of eggnog.

27: Grams of fat in a typical slice of homemade pecan pie.

340: Calories per one-cup serving of stuffing.

60: The average number of minutes a 150-pound person would need to spend walking briskly to burn off that cup of eggnog.

Holiday meals require a great deal of planning, so put forth that extra effort to make the meal a healthy one. The average Thanksgiving dinner has more than 2,000 calories - but you can preserve the merriment while cutting the fat and calories by substituting new, healthier holiday foods for the traditional favorites. Try replacing rich gravies with turkey broth, or serve salsa and low-calorie dips in place of creamy dips and dressings.

In addition to sticking to a plan over the holidays, there are additional steps you can take to preserve your health and fitness throughout the winter months:

Stay focused on what really matters. Rather than celebrating food, celebrate good company and the camaraderie of family and friends, or plan a few enjoyable activities other than eating.

Take a few minutes each day to relax and re-energize. Although the holidays are a time of joy and giving, they also can be a source of stress (which, for many of us, leads to overeating). Practice saying no to any low-priority engagements, and take 15 minutes each day to take a walk, stretch, read, or engage in an activity you enjoy.

Beware of emotional eating. The holidays bring out different emotions in all of us. But studies show that feelings, both good and bad, are the primary culprit in what drives us to overeat.

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Keep moving. A vacation from work or school doesn't mean a vacation from exercise. Schedule at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity in your day.

Don't skip meals. Continue to eat your normal meals on celebration day, rather than reserving your hunger for a one-meal binge.

When holiday season rolls around, we feel entitled to overindulge, as if customs and traditions - even unhealthy ones - dictate our diets. We all look forward to times of celebration to gather with family and friends and yes, enjoy good food. But this year, in the midst of all the bustle and gift-giving, try splurging on the true gifts of the season rather than the temporary delights.

Dr. Gerard J. Musante, a clinical psychologist, pioneered the Structure House Weight Loss Program 30 years ago, helping people all over the world win their battle with weight loss. For more information about Dr. Musante and his book, The Structure House Weight Loss Plan, visit: http://www.structurehouse.com/book.html

Eight Common Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

1) eat an unusually large amount of food at one sitting - eating way past the point of comfortable and sometimes eating to the point of pain from stuffing down so much food.

2) eat lots of food when they are not hungry

3) eat quickly and not really thoroughly chew the food - not savoring the food in any way.

4) eat alone during a binge so that no one can see just how much food they are shoveling down

5) hide food wrappers or any evidence of food that has been eaten so others will not know how much was eaten

6) feel manic or frenzied about bingeing - may feel like bingeing is triggered by emotional pressure but have no idea why

7) feel bad after a binge - usually disgusted with themselves, and often depressed or guilty about the lack of self control.

8) feel sick after the binge and often lethargic - almost in a daze of numbness