The focal point of many holiday parties is a lavish buffet table full of hors d'oeuvres and tempting sweet cookies and cakes, which can test the will power of even the most conscious diet and nutrition buff. Additionally, with colder temperatures arriving and hectic holiday schedules, many find it difficult to stick to their usual exercise regimens.
If you find yourself in this position, do not be too hard on yourself because clinical research shows you are not alone in dealing with the temptations that abound during the holiday season.
- A study funded by the National Institute of Health, and conducted by a team at the Medical University of South Carolina, found the average American adult gains at least five pounds during the months of November and December.
- Another finding that is of concern is most adults who gain weight during the holiday season rarely lose the extra pounds during the spring and summer months, leading the researchers to speculate that a portion of the Americans who have fallen prey to the epidemic of obesity might have fallen into this pattern of seasonal weight gain.
Do not despair, because a 2008 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology provides some insight as to why this weight gain occurs and how people avoid having the extra pounds creep onto their waistlines during the holiday season.
The factors they found that led to holiday weight gain include:
- Increased availability of high-calorie high-fat foods along with treats filled with refined sugar, which often take the place of healthy nutrient rich foods.
- Increased demands on time mean people tend to opt for fast foods and spend less time exercising.
- As much as time with family and friends can be enjoyable, sometimes there are conflicts, which cause stress and can trigger eating for comfort and stress relief.
While the researchers found people who recently lost weight were at the greatest risk of gaining it back during the holidays, the study also found those who conscientiously adhered to their nutritional wellness program were those most likely to maintain their optimal weight.
So, what is the key to successfully avoiding holiday weight gain?
People who had a protein rich meal before a party, and then allowed themselves to have a treat or two, not only maintained their optimal weight, but also did not feel deprived because they ate some of the holiday delicacies.
If your busy schedule does not allow you the time to cook a protein rich meal before your next holiday get together, grab a protein bar or protein shake. A protein bar or shake will curb your appetite, decrease the likelihood of blood sugar spikes, and will make sure you have enough protein to maintain your lean muscle mass, which burns calories. The shot of nutrition provided by this meal replacement will also give you the willpower to enjoy just a couple of treats at the party, while giving you the satisfaction of knowing you are taking good care of yourself.