Experts offer tips to avoid overeating during holiday festivities

Monday, November 19, 2007

While the holiday season may contain many tantalizing delicacies to tempt those who attend various celebrations, it is quite common for these tongue ticklers to have ill-effects for those who overindulge.

According to The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy parent company, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a season filled with overeating. Throughout the holiday season, which includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, people all over the world partake in celebratory eating at home, at family gatherings, at work and also at church events. Food tends to be everywhere this time of year.

For a certain group of people, these parties, which contain many temptations for Americans to abandon healthy eating habits, can actually become dangerous.

"...For the 20.8 million children and adults in the United States that have diabetes, the season's savory treats can be a luxury they can't afford," Medicine Shoppe officials said.

According to registered dietician Sheri Barke, the University of California, Los Angeles, food is an important part of the holiday season. Because of the importance of food in these festivities, many people add a little extra weight to their bodies.

Barke identifies several reasons that a person may overeat during this holiday season. One reason could be that the treats that show up in offices and on family tables might be too hard to resist. Pressure from family , friends and co-workers might play a small part in the reason a person overeats. In addition, some people eat for comfort. This emotional eating could make a person who is suffering from holiday blues feel a little better. Emotional eating could also arise because of extreme holiday joy, the Medicine Shoppe Web site, www., said.

Other people who overeat use the excuse that a new strict diet will take place beginning with the New Year; therefore, they try to eat as much as possible before their diets become strictly limited.

Whatever the reason for the overindulgence during the holiday season, Barke and The Medicine Shoppe agree that maintaining healthy eating habits during the holidays is important in order for a person to stay healthy and avoid gaining unwanted weight.

The Medicine Shoppe and the American Diabetes Association offer several tips for diabetic party attendees that will help people with diabetes make it through the holiday season with their health in tact.

* It is a good idea for a diabetic to decide ahead of time how much he or she will eat. Those who have diabetes can usually eat a little bit of everything during a Thanksgiving meal. However, that person must watch the portion he or she consumes.

* It may be a good idea for a person with diabetes to bring his or her own sugar-free dessert to the family or office get-together.

* For those people with no medical limitations, caution is still a must to avoid excess weight gain. Barke said people attending celebrations should not plan on dieting after the New Year.

"Anticipation of food restriction sets you up for binge-type eating over the holidays," Barke said.

Barke said that restrictive diets are not a very successful way to lose weight.

"Restrictive diets don't work long run. They increase your loss of lean body mass verses fat, slow down your metabolism, increase anxiety, depression, food preoccupation and binge eating, and make weight re-gain more likely." the statement said.

* Barke also advises people to stay physically active every day, even during the holiday season. Physical activity, such as brisk walking, can help reduce stress in addition to regulate a person's appetite and burn up the extra calories a person has consumed due to holiday eating.

* In addition to these, it is a good idea for each person to realize what that person's food weakness are. Once each person discovers which foods will tempt him or her the most, a limit can be set as to how much of that food the person will allow himself or herself to eat. Barke said that it is always important to plan ahead for each celebration.

"Make a plan. Think about where you will be, who you will be with, what foods will be available, what foods are really special to you verses those that you could probably do without. What are your personal triggers to overeat and how can you minimize them. Once you've thought about all of these things, make a plan of action. It's much easier to deal with a difficult social eating situation if you've already planned for it," the statement said.

Barke said that it is really important for a holiday event attendee to enjoy the company of friends and family. She said that food is a big part of the holiday season, but it does not have to be the main part.

"Holiday's are a time to reunite with good friends and family, to share laughter and cheer, to celebrate and to give thanks. Focus more on these other holiday pleasures, in addition to the tastes of holiday foods," she said.

Barke said that one of the most important things to remember is balance and moderation.