The weather is cooler and the leaves outside are lovely shades of red and orange. Fall is definitely here, and also well indicated by the changing of displays at your favorite grocer. Boxes of turkey stuffing are stacked in pyramids at every isle, there might be a sign-up sheet to claim a nice, juicy bird for the last week of November, and cans of pumpkin pie filling are taking up more shelf space than usual. The big eating holidays are here, the stores are prepared for the crush, but are you prepared to survive the holidays without gaining too much weight?
In the past, it was commonly believed that the average person tended to gain at least five pounds over the holiday season. More recent research refutes this number, claiming that a gain of one pound is more accurate. While that may seem like good news to people looking forward to a Thanksgiving feast, there should still be some cause for concern. As the holidays are a time of familial togetherness, oftentimes such activity is sedentary. Friends and relatives gather at home and typically spend the holidays watching televised parades or football games, with very little time going to physical activity. Thanksgiving leftovers may lead to the prospect of continuous snacking over the long weekends, and while you might not gain a lot of weight in this short time, you may be setting a habit that will stay with you through the end of the year and beyond.
Don't be fooled by statistics, either. Just because research indicates that the average weight gain over the holidays is one pound doesn't you won't gain more than a pound this year. It also doesn't give you license to reach for that third slice of pumpkin pie and think the fat and calories will magically disappear while you watch the big game! Moderation and consideration are the keys to enjoying any holiday dinner, and you shouldn't feel as though you have to deny yourself your favorite foods this year. Just watch what goes on your plate, and watch how it is cooked.
Turkey, for example, is low in fat and high in protein. Eaten without the skin and only a smattering of gravy, it provides a delicious base for a holiday meal. Better yet, leave off the gravy altogether, it's good enough on it own! Add some steamed vegetables and a cup of sweet potato with a dash of cinnamon (without the butter, it's fat free!), and you have quite the feast. Of course, don't deny yourself a sliver of pie, but be prepared to burn off those calories. At halftime, bundled up for a short walk. Even if you go around the block just once, it burns off more energy than you would just sitting in front of the television. Or, why not establish a new tradition with the family with a game of backyard football? You get your exercise, you bond with family. Everbody wins at this game.
Vigilance and motivation can help beat the weight gain blues over the holidays. Eat, drink and be merry, but also be active.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer for various health and diet websites, including CompuSlim.com , custom fit weight loss supplements and 100% hoodia.