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Holidays Don’t Cause Weight Gain As Much As Create Unhealthy Habits

Studies show the average person only gains one pound between Thanksgiving and Christmas 

DAYTON, Ohio (November 12, 2013) – The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas offers an overabundance of social gatherings filled with banquets and the giving of edible gifts.

It’s no wonder then that most Americans associate that time of the year with a risk of weight gain. But has the fear of weight gain been blown out of proportion? Some recent studies say yes. According to the National Institutes of Health, most individuals believe they gained up to 10 pounds over the holiday – that’s nearly two pounds per week between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

However, a study released by the New England Journal of Medicine said individuals actually only gain one pound over the holidays. The holidays may not bring the weight gain that most individuals believe, but it is a time that often breeds poor habits that, over time, can result in excessive weight gain, according to Joseph Allen, MD, with Family Medicine of Vandalia, a Premier HealthNet practice.

“Really when it comes down to it people look at the holidays as a time to splurge a little and to not do what they normally do – such as go for that run or take that walk,” Dr. Allen said. “They allow themselves to eat a little more and then a little more and by the end of the holiday season they have developed these habits that are hard to break right away. They can stay that way for the rest of the winter and when spring comes they are really concerned about their weight.”

Dr. Allen sees patients come into his office before and after the holidays concerned about its impact on their weight. The issue affects all individuals – male or female – and makes no difference whether they are already fit or have been struggling with weight for a long time.

“Those who are in pretty good shape are concerned about how the holidays will mess up their schedule and on the flip side you have those who are overweight that may have been struggling with the issue for a long time and feel that the holidays will make it worse,” he said.

Dr. Allen said the answer is not really weight loss as it is about establishing a change in behavior. He encourages patients to first and foremost stick to a routine that includes daily exercise. It may be hard, but it is extremely important not to take a break in exercise routines once the holidays have arrived. Secondly, individuals should watch their portion sizes when it comes to food.

“You can still have the turkey and gravy, but just watch the portion size,” Dr. Allen said.

A good way to measure a healthy portion size is to take portions of each food that is not larger than the fist made from your hand. Another idea is to look at a dinner plate as a pie chart. Half of that pie should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter of it should be protein and a quarter should be starch.

Other ideas include eating vegetables or fruits seven times throughout the day. The fiber-rich foods help fill up a stomach faster than traditional snacks and fiber-rich foods do not have as many calories. If it is difficult to stay away from sweets entirely, then allow yourself one small splurge a day. Never go to a holiday party hungry to help cut down on temptation. And last, but not least, pour all of your focus on socializing at parties, not eating.

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