Welcome to the holidays! Time with family and friends is wonderful, filled with many social engagements where you’re exposed to lots of treats, plus being around everyone indulging in them, with all kinds of temptations to kill your diet and your waistline. The typical American gains some weight each holiday season, some less, some more, but add up those seasons, and so do the pounds, especially as we age. We follow this up every year with a big New Year’s resolution to lose the weight, where this is going to be the year, once and for all. I’ve heard clients call January “Drynuary” to represent the abstinence and sacrifice made in January to make up for what happened in November and December! Drynuary is a good thing, but when someone has been trying to lose weight, the holidays can really test their resolve our calorie abundant, yet nutrient scare culture. When people and parties are put together, food and drink always seem to come along with it, which can make it tricky to avoid the inevitable holiday weight gain.
Yesterday I was at the Salinas Air Show, and I became acutely aware of how being there, where junk food was abound, plus everyone indulging, tempts us . In my practice, I’ve observed that some people are wired to eat healthy where fatty, or sugary foods just aren’t what they crave. Lucky them! These people are in the minority from what I’ve seen. I know I certainly am wired to love fat and sugar but have trained myself to eat healthy 90% or more of the time. I’m also aware of the pleasure/reward systems in our brain for higher caloric foods: the higher in sugar, fat, and salt, the greater the reward. So, when I’m around people eating and drinking junk food, I too, want to join in the “fun”. This is typical in most people, plus studies have confirmed that gathering people in groups causes them to eat more calories, as much as 76% more. This is called “social facilitation” and is possibly traceable all the way back to basic human behavior, allowing people to survive better.
So, how do we navigate our social obligations without the inevitable weight gain? First thing: Awareness! Being mindful that this is happening is the key to successfully understanding why you can’t seem to keep your hand out of that chip bowl. Second, avoid going to functions totally famished. When your starving, it’s hard to choose wisely when all the unhealthy yummy food is sitting right in front of you & everyone is noshing on it. Third, recognize triggers and associations that occur when going to certain events. An example would be going to the movies and thinking buttered popcorn and/or candy must accompany it. These triggers are deep ingrained behavior patterns that can sabotage our best efforts and must be recognized before they can be changed.
Need more help in nutritional counseling and getting your body on track? Call/Text or email me and we can get you on the path to success!