Myths About Overeating During the Holidays

Myths About Overeating During the Holidays

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MYTH: People gain 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s

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Let’s just get the biggest legend out of the way first. Studies show that the average adult puts on around one pound over that time period. “The biggest misconception comes from the fact that people don’t remember what they weight before December,” Lauren Antonucci, Board Certified Sports Nutritionist and Director of Nutrition Energy, said. “People gain weight slowly throughout the year but they think they gained five pounds in a month.” The fear that may be true is not so bad, she adds, because it keeps you cautious about what you eat.

MYTH: Sit next to a skinny person at the dinner table

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You should sit next to the person who eats healthy, Antonucci says. Everyone knows of a skinny person who is lucky to stay the same size regardless of how much he or she abuses their digestive system. Don’t sit next to thin Jim, who focuses on everything but the veggies on the table. Your body is different. Surround yourself instead with two people who eat well and, hopefully, that will motivate you to eat better.

MYTH: Don’t eat before the big meal

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Nutritionists are unequivocal: DON’T DO IT! “You’re setting yourself up to eat more than you would have anyway,” Antonucci says. Don’t skip meals. “Be mindful of what you’re eating before. Don’t start with a bagel, of course.” Consume lean meat, veggies, fruits, or a Greek yogurt, so you have nutritious food in your body. “It’s like going to the store hungry: You buy more than what you need and end up eating it.”

MYTH: Holiday overeating happens on special days only

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The winter holiday season realistically starts on Halloween, not on Thanksgiving as it used to. People tend to treat themselves more often because “it’s the holiday season and I deserve a treat.” By all means you do, but “treat yourself to 10-minute massages, not food,” Antonucci says. Having a little something here and there eventually may accumulate to more than 2,000 calories a day.

MYTH: Overeating a few times won’t sabotage your diet

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“It depends on how many of those ‘treats’ you let creep in,” Antonucci says. One or two special days – Christmas and New Year’s, for example – won’t ruin your health or diet unless they become a normal occurrence. “If you have six parties, three weddings and five family gatherings to go to, decide when to indulge and when to stick to your diet,” she adds.

MYTH: I have to be perfect to maintain my weight

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In addition to being false, “that’s said,” Antonucci says. She doesn’t like the concept of “cheat days” because it implies that people are doing something wrong. “We are all human beings and are all entitled to some treats. I love pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. And if someone told me ‘You shouldn’t eat that,’ I’ll just tell them ‘You’re nuts and I’m not listening.’” Little treats can actually help you drop a few pounds.

MYTH: I’ll exercise in December and won’t gain weight

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You probably often hear the expression that you can’t over-exercise a bad diet? That’s because it’s true and studies show it. Exercising regularly will definitely help you not gain weight but don’t do it just for a few weeks or a month. “Exercise will enable you to eat more which is the opposite of your goal,” Antonucci says. “It’ll help if don’t stop.”

MYTH: I can skip lunch and eat a lot at dinner

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That’s a big “no-no” for Antonucci. “Keep it healthy but don’t skip anything.” A study by The Ohio State University, released in May, suggests that skipping meals is linked to abdominal weight gain. It really comes down to this: Avoiding meals to save room for more later is a bad idea. Don’t do it.

MYTH: It’s all about willpower

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Another word that makes people feel guilty, Antonucci says, but nothing more. “Humans don’t have good willpower. We are just not wired this way.” She gives the famous example of people choosing the take $20 now as opposed to $40 in a month. “Our brains are wired very strongly for instant gratification.” Eating is natural and not wrong.

MYTH: I must give up my favorite holiday foods to maintain my weight

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Never give up non-favorite treats on special days. There would be no joy left in this world. Don’t eat food you are not crazy about. “I like pumpkin pie but don’t like the stuffing very much, so I’ll skip that,” Antonucci says. If you’re counting calories – some experts say this method can be helpful for staying on track with your diet – don’t blow them on anything just because it’s on the table.