By Doug Morin
Executive Director, Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine
Let’s face it – a bit of pigging out is expected during the holidays. It’s a tradition, right? Your friends and family have been preparing giant roasts and piles of potatoes with greasy gravy, along with cakes and pies well in advance for the party and you don’t want to hurt their feelings by not eating some of everything and drinking lots of wine. Right?
The problem with the holidays isn’t usually the weight gain — the average American gains only one or two pounds in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s — it’s the fact that most people never lose the excess pounds. So in five years you may have gained 10 pounds and in 10 years, 20 pounds. The best course of action? Stop weight gain before it starts – it’s easier than you think. Here are some helpful hints for surviving the onslaught of food:
Only purchase food items you intend to eat. Don’t fill your pantry with holiday treats long before the holidays; it is better to avoid the temptation. Don’t go to the party with an empty stomach. Eat something before the party or meal. Sit down when you eat and be mindful of the food you’re eating. If you’re easily tempted, find a distraction. Chat with children, play with pets, argue about football and skip the hors d’oeuvres. Plan for people who are food-pushers. If you know there are certain people who worry that you don’t have enough food or push what they have made on you, think of a polite way ahead of time. Usually a kind comment like “I’m pacing myself” said with a smile is enough said. But do be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking and stop before you get too full.
We all agree that eating is generally a pleasant experience, but for the sake of your body and its well-being, you need to exercise it regularly. The Centers for Disease Control suggests that adults should be active for at least 2½ hours a week, and kids and teens should be active for at least 1 hour a day. Of course that’s a minimum, and with our pleasant winter weather you would do yourself a favor to keep moving outdoors or indoors and encourage your family to stay active. And keep in mind that clean hands are one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others, and all you have to do is wash your hands with soap and water.