Don’t Overlook Smart Eating in December

The holidays are here! As an Obesity Medicine doctor I always hear the argument that this is a terrible time to go on a diet, stick to a diet, work on changing eating habits, etc because the holidays come only once a year, and you want to enjoy them! Sound familiar? But here are some fallacies in this argument.

With the obesity epidemic only growing worse in the US and even in Hawaii (a traditionally ‘healthy’ state), we really can’t blame only the holidays. The risk of weight gain from unhealthy eating are actually a constant, year-long problem that is only worsened during holiday time. Speaking of holiday time – what we define as ‘holidays’ also contributes. A generation ago, holiday celebrations were generally limited to maybe one office Christmas party and dinner at grandma’s on the 25th. But now, the holiday celebration period tends to start for many quite early – sometimes even after Halloween – and includes a nearly endless string of social obligations, potlucks, and events, all involving unhealthy foods. So clearly the holidays’ effects on our waistlines are no longer limited to just one or two splurge meals.

Not only do we tend to gain several extra pounds each during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but research shows that we also tend NOT to lose these pounds despite our best New Year’s resolutions. And even if you don’t think a couple extra holiday pounds matter, if you do that year after year, the pounds add up and they tip the scale, and your body composition, in the absolute wrong direction.

Having said that, you don’t have to be a Grinch – you CAN stay healthy and still enjoy all the fun of the seasons. Some suggestions:
-bring healthy snacks to share at potlucks – like a crudité platter
-watch liquid calories like alcohol and eggnog
-focus on activities and special events: walking through the Honolulu City Lights display with friends and family, or going to watch the     Nutcracker ballet, rather than just sitting and eating, to make the holiday memorable.
-stick with like-minded, supportive friends as much as you can to reinforce and validate your commitment to the healthiest 2016 possible!

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