Tis the Season to Avoid the Bulge

By Dr. John Gannage, MD

The holiday preparations, parties and treats are upon us. Afterwards, there are many weeks of cold days. If you’re not careful you may find at the end of 4 months that you’ve gained 15 pounds or more. Heck, some may gain that by New Year’s Day. Here are some tips to help avoid the extra pounds.


Learn to say no, particularly when out at social gatherings, to foods that you know are blacklisted. Your friends may respect and try to emulate you. Each year some may even join you – soon you’ll have a circle of friends that has developed healthy dietary habits together. Don’t slide into consecutive days of poor food choices. If one day or night your diet (and alcohol consumption) takes a bad turn, be especially good for the next three. Make it a priority to focus on many servings of salad each day after the overindulgence, before the next party arrives, and drink lots of water too. Plan some activities that don’t focus on food – try to stay away from repeated holiday socials where the emphasis is on food and eating (as well as alcohol and drinking).


If it’s a lonely time for you, due to loss or other reasons, make a point to make contact with special people (or bury the hatchet with someone you’ve been at odds with). Go beyond small talk and make an honest attempt at connection. Otherwise, loneliness leads to overeating, usually of the starchy, high-carb, sugary foods that can add the pounds and drain your energy.


Stress can lead to more eating, and also causes hormone imbalances that result in weight gain. Ask for help – do pot luck dinner rather than the whole thing if you’re hosting. Ask the kids for their participation. If shopping is a bother, try your hand on-line rather than stressing to find a parking space and rushing through the crowded malls. Delivery to your door of gifts you’ve intended for others can make a big difference toward allowing more quality time with friends and family. It certainly helps to plan ahead and not risk adrenal overload as you’re hurried to meet the December 25th deadline.


Remember, it’s a long winter. Don’t hibernate with unhealthy snacks – activate with healthy exercise. Bundle up and get out there, choose a parking spot further away from the entrance, take the stairs, chase the kids in the snow, steer clear of hours in cyberspace or video-gaming.

Tis the season to spend time with friends, volunteer yourself to those in need, exchange gifts, and connect spiritually.  So go ahead and give like Santa – just try to avoid looking like him. Take the focus off food. And have fun! After all, it’s meant to be a wonderful time of year!!