Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Health—Weight and Stress!

Jesse and Erica emailed, “The holidays are here and I don’t need to gain any weight!  Can you help?” This is a timely topic! The average American puts on 7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s— not a healthy thing for the two-thirds of our citizens who are already overweight. Since stress and depression can lead to over-eating as a way to “self-medicate,” try out these 7 tips to curb the 7 pounds and have a joyful holiday!

1. The three “Friends”: Fiber, Fruit, Fluid:
Fiber is an excellent natural way to help feel full for hours. Some sources are bran, beans, raw vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli), or flavored or plain Metamucil® or its generic form taken in water in the morning or before a party. Fluid is essential to overall health and also helps curb appetite; water is best. Fresh fruit helps to satisfy a sweet tooth without damage to your weight.

2. More Protein, Less Carb:
Protein tends to satisfy appetites, while complex carbs (bread, pastries, cakes, chips, rice, potatoes) can enhance blood sugar swings and leave us feeling hungrier. Substitute fruit and veggies, which are made of different types of carbs that don’t produce such swings.

3. Activity:
To burn extra calories, add a little physical activity here and there. Take the stairs rather than the elevator, park across the lot from a store entrance, and take walks in your neighborhood, a park, or the malls during safe times.

4. Alcohol:
More alcohol, less control! Think substitution with seltzer refreshed with lime, mint, or a little fruit juice or dilute use it to dilute (and enliven) your drink.

5. All the Senses:
Enjoy holiday treats in moderation but enlarge the experience by taking in the decorations, smells, the warmth of a fire, lights, and holiday music. Make the holidays a feast for all the senses, not just one.

6. Be with People:
The holidays need not be a lonely time. Connect with others. Are friends and family unavailable? Try the gym, community service, or festive events open to the public. If you are a person of faith, participate in the fellowship offered by the rituals of this special time of year; it is the “reason for the season.”

7. Reduce stress:
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the expectations of the holidays, make a list of what you feel you “should” be accomplishing. You may find that your perfectionism is putting too much unnecessary pressure on you. Dare to be “average”! Find ways to trim the list and eliminate the extra work, focusing instead on the simple ways to enjoy this special time of year. 

Photo by Suat Eman


  1. Dr. Long, Thanks for the great ideas. I love your point about taking the time to utilize your senses and embrace the spirit around you. I'm going to try and further appreciate the decorations, smells, warm fires, lights, and holiday music this year.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Dr. Long!


    1. Good, Kristen. I'm in there with you taking in the special joy of the season and minimizing stress. It's all in the attitude! More on this in the New Year with new Wellness posts!

  2. Thanks for sharing this Dr. Long, I'm using it to create a dailyRx slideshow that we can share with some our bigger partners! That will definitely get some eyes on this great advice!

    1. Thanks, Charles! Always good to have a united effort for Wellness. Look for more to come with the New Year and happy holidays to you!

  3. Hi - thanks so much for this advice! I, too, will try to work on more fiber and protein this season! I just hurt my back and I think getting off some extra weight will help all the way around.

  4. Great, Anne! Let's work your program together with some back strengthening exercises, not-too-stressful dietary adjustments, and some good cardio, which will get the endorphins going, lift your mood, and decrease your pain!