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Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Have you ever thought about why the holidays are such a flurry of overeating? Following are a few reasons to consider:

Social pressure: Have you sanctioned the holidays as a time to indulge a bit, to ease up a little, to stop caring about your health so much, and to eat what you want more often. Still most of us still feel a little guilty about this. Others will pressure you to join them in indulging so they can feel a little better about their own indulgences. One study shows how people eating with a group tend to match their intake to the group “average,” so if the group is overeating, there’s a psychological cue for you to overeat.

Stress: Holiday commitments are stressful. Stress means comfort eating, but who chooses celery sticks or salad greens for comfort? Cortisol, the stress hormone that is released when you are stressed out promotes weight gain, especially the dreaded “belly fat.”

Disrupted routines: Traveling means you spend a lot of time sitting, you get thrown off your regular exercise routine, and you aren’t always in control of your food. You don’t have time to make your juices or even the equipment to make them.

Emotional cues. Maybe it’s not a struggle for you to pass up a co-worker’s candy dish, but if Mom, Grandma, or your sister made your favorite dish just for you, it gets a lot harder, especially if you have fond memories of eating it in years past.

All of these points represent cues to overeat. If you don’t deliberately try to respond in a different way, you’ll end up falling in the “cue trap” and overeating. To stay healthy, don’t just passively follow the overeating cues like a lemming. Instead, make smart choices, enjoying a few treats when they’re worth it and passing most of it. So your job for the holidays is to plan, prioritize, and act accordingly.

What can you do?

Believe it or not, you can actually fight back against the holiday battle of the bulge. Take a look at what tactics have been tried and shown effective:

Juice vegetables every day you can. If you want to curb cravings, juice will help you tackle them at the start of the day (if you juice in the morning).

Eat the right fat.

Holiday season requires a bit of damage control with food quality. That’s normal. But here’s one area to focus on even if you’re letting a few other things slide a bit—prioritize fat quality. The proof is in this study, where scientists studied overweight subjects during the holidays. The subjects got either 3.2 grams/day of conjugated linoleic acid (a naturally occurring fat found in grass-fed beef and pastured eggs) or a placebo, and the results were dramatic. The CLA group showed:

  • Lower body fat (an average of 2.2 pounds lost)
  • Less weight gain (in the subjects who did gain weight)
  • Fewer negative emotions
  • Less endothelial dysfunction (“endothelial dysfunction” is a fancy term for your gut not being happy with you, so less of it is a good thing!)

And all this despite having no difference in total calorie intake or physical activity. And this is in adults who were overweight to begin with – the group most at risk for holiday weight gain! The moral of the story: eat healthy fat from grass-fed animals (or eggs, dairy, and butter).

You can make this happen almost anywhere: pastured eggs are even available at Wal-Mart now.

For more information and help for the holidays, join my “Healthy Holidays” 4-week class.

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