Holiday Spread: highly caloric, hard-to-stay-away-from food and drink that tempts us from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day;also, what happens to waistlines after giving in.

Holiday Spread – both the food and the girth – can be managed. The key is a food journal.  A recent study found that people who kept records of what they ate lost twice as much weight as those who did not.  

Additional Tips for Combating Holiday Spread

  • Be mindful of calories consumed when drinking alcohol and holiday beverages. Calories from beer and wine can add up as can cider and eggnog.
  • Fill your plate with small portions. The first few bites provide the most pleasure.
  • Many smartphones have health-related apps including nutrition and fitness trackers. Use them to count calories.
  • Sit or stand away from buffet tables, candy dishes, dessert platters and the kitchen.
  • Drink water before, during and after a meal. It will help fill you up.
  • Chew gum or suck on a sugarless breath mint. It keeps you from eating when you are not hungry.
  • Toothpaste dulls taste buds. If possible, brush your teeth before and after eating.
  • If you find yourself snacking even when you’re not hungry, try to figure out why. Are you bored, sad or happy, or is the food just there? It is important to eat only in response to hunger and not for other reasons.
  • Fitness should not go by the wayside during the holidays. Keep up exercise routines. Actually, you should add ten to 15 minutes to your workouts around the holidays to combat the extra calories.

Eating can be a mindless activity, particularly in the midst of socializing at events like holiday parties. People gain weight this time of year because they are not thinking about what they’re eating or how much or because they figure this is the only time of year when they can have certain foods and they’ll work it off later.

This is particularly troublesome because holiday weight gain often remains with us for life. A National Institutes of Health report finds that the pound typically acquired over the course of one holiday season is usually still around the following year. Down the road, this can lead to significant health problems like obesity, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

A daily written accounting can change this scenario. People tend to consume fewer calories when they keep track of what they are eating. They may still fill their plates, but with more healthful choices like fruits and vegetables.

And, when the holidays are over, the biggest and best gift of all is a record of festivities sensibly enjoyed, a lack of weight gain and most importantly, good health.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]