‘Tis the season for holiday feasts that bring family members from both near and far. The eyes prove to be bigger than the stomach and the weight gain that comes soon after pushes everyone to move “go to the gym” to the top of their New Year’s resolution list.
Mercy College’s Health and Wellness department hosted a table in front of the Lecture Hall that shed light on how to avoid overeating over the course of the holiday season.
Studies conducted by the Journal of Obesity have shown that people will gain an average of 0.8 to 1 kg (1.76 lbs.) during the holidays. College students are normally prone to gain weight during the holiday period but tend to lose the weight quickly.
Perhaps it is the anticipation of having a cooked meal that doesn’t come from a campus cafeteria or sleeping in a bed other than the twin-xl mattress in the dorms, but going home for the holidays brings about levels of excitement that words can not explain.
Health and Wellness gave hand-outs to students as they passed through the Lecture Hall lobby that highlighted tips on how to eat healthy during the extended winter break ranging from exercising to alternative cooking methods to utilize in both the kitchen and outings.
One aspect is definite: Balance is key.
There is no need to riddle the holiday season with calorie counts, but staying vigilant and prepared will pay off in the long run.
For example, winter breaks prompt various dinners and outings with friends from high school. Reminiscing about sophomore year math class over bread bowls will be completely harmless as long during the days leading up to the outing, healthy choices are made. The holiday season is notorious for melting inhibitions about dieting but do not let this be a deterrent from reaching the goal..
Candy canes are one of the season’s biggest symbols but with the cool, minty flavoring of peppermint comes tons of sugar. At first taste, one instantly wants more which brings on a snowball effect. By practicing healthy eating habits while home for the holidays combined with exercising regularly, sugar rushes can be avoided and the craving for sugar will eventually disappear completely.
Some of the predictive weight gaining factors during the holiday season include stress, depression, hunger, activity, changes in smoking habits, and winter seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD.
As the saying goes, “Eat, drink, and be merry,” but how much is too much? Alcohol intake over the course of the holiday season skyrockets since every other day is a celebration. However, most tend to forget that alcohol too has calories and can be just as fattening as food. Keep in mind that although those wine coolers and beers seem harmless, the calorie and sugar contents within the drinks are enough to cause one more pain in the long run than a hangover. The easiest way to curb overindulgence in alcohol over the holidays is to have as much discipline with it as food. Healthier versions of the liquor that everyone knows and loves do exist, so if it all possible, opt for those options.
Another reason most are inclined to overeat at family dinners during the holidays is that fact is that one feels a sense of obligation not to turn away any food that comes onto the plate.
The Health and Wellness Department reassures that this should not be the case.
“Don’t feel as though you have to say yes to everyone who offers you food and drink. If you are not hungry, then simply say so. Do not let yourself be bullied into eating something that you don’t really want,” the handout read.
All of these healthy eating tips would be almost useless without exercise to work in conjunction with it. Perhaps going to the gym is too tedious or one lacks the motivation to work out at home. Some holiday activities that can also serve as ways to burn off the calories consumed include ice skating, afternoon walks, and sledding. Exercise does not have to feel like a chore, but it is necessary.
Going home for the holidays is a blessing and a curse. Family gathers for the holidays and one can get caught up in the moment. It is necessary that one take preventative measures from November to January in order to produce healthier results.