Is This The Least You’ll Weigh All Year?

According to a semi-global study, late October and early November are peak times for  “best” weights for Americans. It’s right afterwards, during holidays, that we tend to grow larger (and we don’t mean taller.)

Tighter Clothes: Post-Holiday Woes

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published its findings from a three-country study. The weight loss-and-gain of Americans, Germans, and Japanese folks were observed. Around this time of year, late fall, Americans weighed in at their lowest compared to the rest of the year.

In Germany and Japan, the results were the same. Thousands of participants were tracked using wireless scales. In all three countries, the participants’ weight rose within 10 days after Christmas Day. The heaviest day for mostly everyone in the study was around New Year’s Day.

Holiday Feasting

The common thread between all three countries is that a major holiday falls in a similar time period. Each of those holidays is celebrated with food—and lots of it. In America, of course, there’s Thanksgiving. In Germany, it’s Christmas, and in Japan, Golden Week.

Although the greatest weight gains were observed through November and December, the study also showed that there was significant weight gain around other major holidays as well.

Some Good News

It isn’t all downhill for our waistlines after the winter festivities. On a positive note, the study showed that up to half of the weight gain was lost pretty quickly after the holidays.

The Other News (…Not so Encouraging)

There’s a reason why gyms do amazing business after the first of the new year. Everyone signs up wanting to shed the extra weight they recently acquired. According to the study, the bummer news is that about half of the weight that was gained in the winter tends to stay on until summer (and sometimes beyond.)

More Self Control Needed?

If you don’t mind (or truly enjoy) being part of this statistical study, then don’t give any of this another thought. Eat, be merry, and worry about it later.

If, however, you really don’t want to gain weight during the holiday season, some serious mindful eating will need to come into play. Food celebrations will be all around you, tempting you. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, pies, rolls, egg nog, the list can and will go on… You will need to make some hard and fast choices.

Will you nibble here and there, so you won’t feel deprived? Or will you eat very healthy, smaller portions most of the time in order to indulge yourself a small bit? Or will you kick up your exercise regimen in order to burn the extra calories?

Clearly, the less you gain, the less you have to lose. Keeping that in mind, don’t stress—just try and make the healthiest decisions and stick by them. Enjoy your comforts and the people in your life. That will feed your soul well.

Best Party Drinks for Health and Weight Watching

Once the weekend rolls around, those of us who enjoy a cocktail, really look forward to a good drink. Holiday time offers parties, rich foods, and often high-calorie beverages. Here are some tips for alcoholic and virgin drinks when you want to partake, but you don’t want to bust your diet.

Oldies But Not Such Goodies

Drinks like Egg Nog, Pina Coladas, and Daiquiris are delicious and satisfying (momentarily) but enormously high in empty calories. Cream, sweetened syrups, and cocktails with sugar around the rim of the glass can be festive but fatal to a healthy diet.

Enjoying the Standards

Wine and beer don’t need to bust your caloric budget. You can partake in moderation without too much regret. Of course, the sugar content in both will come back to bite your metabolism in the butt, but if you want to have one drink, go for it.

A “light” alcoholic or non-alcoholic beer can set you back a mere 95 calories. A heartier brew, perhaps from a local source or an exotic import, may hover somewhere between 150-250 calories per 12-ounce glass. If you love a good beer, that one serving may be well worth trading for that slice of Brie cheese.

Red and white wine, per 5-ounce serving, can be 100-150 calories. It’s tougher to measure wine than beer or spirits because it’s usually free-poured. Sometimes in restaurants, they’ll offer a four- or five-ounce carafe, but otherwise, the size of the glass may throw off the amount. So word to the wine-drinking wise.

For the benefits of red and white wines (and champagne), click here.

Spirits Galore!

Most alcohol contains about seven calories per gram. Hard liquors (tequila, vodka, rum, scotch, brandy, gin, etc.) run about 100 calories a shot. So if you drink a straight-up shot, you’re looking at a 100-cal deficit.

That’s not too bad, it’s just that once that shot’s down the hatch, it’s over. So, it makes sense to add a mixer. Mixers are where you can get into trouble. For example, fizzy waters can be awesome or abominable for your diet.

Just because it says it’s water and it’s clear, doesn’t mean tonic water has zero anything. In fact, one 12-ounce serving can be at least 100 calories, have over 30 grams of sugar, and be very high in sodium. Club soda has fewer calories, but often sodium is added and so are minerals to enhance flavor. Seltzer water is your best bet.

Soda is bad, period—alone or with a shot of a spirit. Mixing with a diet soda, may upfront be fewer calories, but it’s still not a great choice. Most diet sodas contain aspartame or Splenda, which are harmful chemicals that, ultimately, make you gain weight. Best to just stay away from sugary or artificially sweetened soda altogether.

Here’s Your Drink Ticket

If you’re opting out of wine or beer, here are some health and diet conscious ideas for cocktails:

-Try infusing natural ingredients into vodka or gin. You can make your own “flavored” alcohol without adding sugar or calories. A day, a week, or even two, place your desired “twist” into the bottle with the spirit. Some yummy options are: fresh lemon, raspberry, or rosemary. Keep the bottle in the fridge and then strain the pulp or seeds with a cheesecloth when ready to drink.

-Buy a flavored alcohol. Just note that many of them contain less alcohol content per ounce than unflavored spirits. Add seltzer water as a mixer. It has no calories or added sugar or sodium. Then garnish with a slice of fruit.

-Use a pure spirit and then mix with a store-bought flavored seltzer. (A brand like LaCroix has no added sodium, sugar, or artificial ingredients. They offer fruit flavored fizzy water made from the oils extracted from the particular fruit.)

-Use Kombucha as a mixer. Get your probiotic fill while catching a buzz. Very little sugar content and all natural.

-Use fresh ingredients for garnish and mixers. Lime, lemon, and mint are great party pleasers. Garnish: celery sticks, carrots (high in fiber), and olives are high in antioxidants and help lower cholesterol (good fat)

Adding a healthy garnish will keep you from eating a hunk of bread with your cocktail. Also, remember to sip water in between sips of your party drink. It will make it last longer, keep you hydrated, and reduce chances of next-day regret.

And no matter if you’re watching your weight, drinking moderately, or just tasting—never drink alcohol and drive. Just a friendly reminder… Enjoy a wonderful holiday season and keep the good spirit flowing!