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Watch Out for Holiday Weight Gain

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Watch Out for Holiday Weight Gain


By Richard Fleming, MD

Though it seems hard to believe, winter is a few weeks away. Some animals put on a lot of weight in the fall so they can hibernate through the winter months. Bears can add on as much as 100 pounds to get ready for cold weather. Other animals can increase their weight by 25% or more to prepare for winter.

For many humans, the fall is also a time of weight gain. For some reason, it seems the end-of- the-year months are marked by a lot more calorie consumption. Halloween is often a time of heavy eating, since it would be a shame to let all that left-over candy go to waste. Thanksgiving would not be such a special day without huge amounts of rich food. And parties marking the holiday season start in early December and continue until early January. When you think about, it takes very little effort to gain 5 or 10 pounds, or more, between October and January. And once acquired, those pounds can be quite difficult to get rid of.

Before we continue, let me make two points perfectly clear. Number one, humans are not bears. And number two, we do not need to hibernate.

So what is a body to do? How do humans avoid autumn weight gain? It is a difficult battle. But several small tips can be helpful. It is not necessary to avoid Thanksgiving meals and holiday parties. But when you attend these events, keep portion sizes small. You can still taste all the wonderful food, but avoid loading your plate with large amounts.

Drinking a lot of water before starting to eat, as well as during your meal, can make you feel fuller and less tempted to overeat.

Where you can avoid high calorie items, do so. After all, who really needs to add whip cream to the top of their pumpkin pie? Maybe the tasty hot rolls can be skipped and the hearty gravy avoided.

Doing even a little exercise can help burn up calories, so try to arrange a 15 minute or half hour walk with your family and friends before sitting down to that wonderful meal.

Finally, keep reminding yourself that any weight you put on over the holidays is going to be hard to take off. If you approach holiday eating with caution, it will simplify your process of making New Year’s resolutions. Think of the benefits! You will no longer need to vow to lose weight in the new year. Instead you can promise yourself to finally clean out the garage. Or visit your Aunt Sarah more often. Being a human is so much better than being a bear. After all, we do not need to curl up in a cave for three months when the temperature drops.