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Feature Story


Stick to these strategies straight from the experts and you can look forward to a healthy--not hefty--holiday.

by Joan Teotico


It’s the time of the year again for holiday feasting and the inevitable expanding of waistlines. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reports that people gain nearly one pound from the middle of November until early to mid-January, which researchers peg as the holiday period. What’s even more alarming is the participants of the study didn’t lose the excess weight they gained during the holidays.

Most of us could choose to dismiss these findings and, instead, dig into simbang gabi favorites like bibingka and puto bumbong, or Noche Buena staples like lechon, hamon and queso de bola.

Binging triggers

To break the tradition of holiday weight gain, HealthToday asked experts—clinical psychologist Boboy Alianan, Jr., Ph.D. and weight management dietician Iree Velasco, RN—to share savvy strategies in beating binging and keeping you from becoming the seasonal surfeiter.

• Never miss out on meals and snacks. People who forgo lunch and the afternoon snack suddenly turn into gormandizers at evening Christmas parties because they’ve been running on empty. Velasco says we must feed our bodies to keep its energy up. Otherwise, the body’s metabolism slows down since there’s nothing to burn and anything that we eat becomes stored fat in our system. “Your body converts the food as fat as a way to cope so that you don’t collapse [and] you don’t end up feeling very hungry [while waiting for] your next meal,” explains Velasco.

• Be a conscious eater. Dr. Alianan says the concept of mindfulness may help curb a binge because it’s about understanding what you’re eating and the impact of food to your body. He adds that binging happens when we are not mindful of what we’re eating and keeping popping what seems to be an endless supply of food into our mouth.

• Eat slowly. According to Velasco, our stomach sends signals to our brain when we eat, reaching it at least 30 minutes after our first food intake. This means if you scarf down food in 15 minutes or less, you don’t give enough time for the signals to reach your brain. “You end up looking for other food items to eat kasi yung feeling ng body mo, hindi ka pa satisfied,” she points out.

• Give in to cravings. Velasco tells her clients to scan the buffet table and choose the food they really want to eat while keeping portions in check. Hankering for kare-kare? Most likely you won’t end up overeating because you indulged yourself. “I would rather that you actually satisfy your cravings,” Velasco stresses.

• Ensure all-day hydration. Based on a report presented in the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) last year, drinking two eight-ounce glasses of water before meals might melt pounds. Brenda Davy, Ph.D., the study’s senior author, states increased water consumption is an effective weight loss strategy.

For more healthy holiday tips and explanations from the experts, get your copy of HealthToday December-January, out now in newsstands and bookstores.

Overcome Holiday Overeating

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