The Unforgiving Truth: How to Avoid Weight Gain This Holiday Season


| 6 Comments
The holidays are upon us and while this may be the season of giving, the food we decide to eat can be unforgiving on our waistlines. These next few weeks are calorie bombs- our targets: plates of cookies, mashed potatoes, and one-too-many Peppermint Mocha's. But this year, instead of worrying that you'll pack on the pounds, let a new study from the University of Rhode Island assure you that perhaps the key to staying slim isn't what you eat- but the speed you eat it at. 
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In this study, conducted by professor Kathleen Melanson, a correlation was found between the subject's BMIs (Body Mass Index) and the speeds at which they ate. Those who ate slower (2 ounces per minute) had lower BMI's compared to the subjects who ate more quickly (3.1 ounces per minute). Professor Melanson explains her findings in this article, posted on science news site, Eurekalert.org. She says, "It takes time for your body to process fullness signals, so slower eating may allow time for fullness to register in the brain before you've eaten too much." These findings are important and should help us remember that finishing our plate isn't always a race. 
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Melanson's observational study is valid, but there are definitely some possible confounding variables I wonder about. For example, I believe that people who are slim are generally more health conscious and may be more educated on appropriate portion size than those who are overweight. What I mean by this statement is that, it shouldn't matter how fast your eating the meal, it should only matter how much of it your eating. I wonder if Melanson has taken this into account in her results/study. 

It's common procedure to celebrate the holiday season every day from Thanksgiving until New Years. However, this may be the downfall for anyone trying to maintain their weight. While occasionally indulging on your roommates famous holiday cookies isn't a problem, everyday snacking can become an issue. Remember that its called a holiDAY for a reason. In my opinion, focusing on healthy eating throughout the season is the best way to survive this time of year without packing on the pounds. 
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6 Comments

The one missing component in the third variables you mention are genetics; one of the biggest reasons our bodies are the way they are. Surely, it is important how fast you eat, but that depends on if your body can metabolize the food you are eating at the rate you are eating. Some people naturally have faster metabolisms than others, which allows them to digest food at a faster pace, often allowing them to stay thin. Then there are people who have slow metabolisms because it runs in their genes, and even if they eat healthy, their body still cannot metabolize at a fast enough rate. This is when the body begins to retain the carbs and sugars we eat, resulting in weight gain. The three biggest components in how our bodies look (in no particular order) are genetics, our food intake, and the amount of exercise we do. Sometimes, I see people who eat so much and so unhealthy, and yet they are stick thin. This is due to their metabolism, which is due to their genetics. In way, it is all a chain reaction.
There are so many diet plans out there that people have been bought into. In 2004, Americans spent $46 million dollars on diet products and self-help books, according to NBC News! Every other year, the numbers are similar. Sure, they have worked for many, but at the same time, they have failed many. That is why the best way to lose weight is the old fashioned weigh: healthy eating and exercise. There are many misconceptions about the proper amount to eat and exercise to lose weight.
Something that I just learned from Live Strong
is that there are 3,500 calories in one pound! That statistic really helps put things in perspective if you are the type of person to look at nutrition labels on foods. The way to not gain weight is to balance the amount of calories you burn compared to the amount of calories you eat. If you eat 300 calories for breakfast, go to the gym, and burn 300 calories, then it is like you have not eaten anything that day. You are back at square one which is always a good feeling. When I go to the gym, I sometimes look at the amount of calories I burn and exclude things I ate that day because I technically just burned it off. This helps me to keep track of what calories I am storing.
I have always heard that if you want to lose weight, you should eat 1,200 calories a day for a woman. I am sure the male number is just a few hundred calories higher. Doctors recommend exercising at least 45 minutes a day, about 6 days a week. If you make a healthy lifestyle a habit, it will stick with you throughout your life. Your body will thank you later.

I agree with you one hundred percent. Although eating slower does help, eating healthy and proportionally is key. If you have a healthy meal that is balanced with just the right amount of each food group then you should be in for a good holiday season.

Eating slower does help you realize when you are actually full. By not eating all of the food on your plate within thirty seconds, you can not only enjoy the food more but eat less also.

If you're eating slow and still eating a lot then you're not going to lose any weight. It is all about self control and being conscious of the food that you are eating and how fattening and caloric the meal is.

Also adding exercise to your every day schedule will help you either keep those pounds off or shed a few extra for your winter break vacation to Aruba.

This is very interesting, but all dieting and healthy eating habits, should be practiced year round. one day of eating should not change the course of someones health. That being said some of the ideas and tips are good strategies to help maintain weight. in addition to balanced diet and exercise one method of controlling food intake i came across was drinking one lass of water before each meal. According to this New York Times article, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/16/health/16really.html?ref=health&_r=0 , studies have shown up to a four pound difference in those people who included water before a meal in their weight loss plan compared those who didn't. Have you considered other potentially beneficial weight loss programs, and tactics to deal with the temptations of holiday eating ?

One reason pointed out about why americans are so fat is because of the rate we eat. Often without even realizing it we will put more food in our mouth without even finishing the food we are choosing. this disrupts how we digest and process the food. For more info a quick google search can satisfy your needs. The holiday season is often the easies time to gain weight and hardest to lose it. Many do not care about what they eat with all of the options in front of them and indulge on whatever they can. This leads to ridiculous new years resolutions about dieting which often aren't achieved. It would be interesting to see if there is a correlation with how much someone eats in the holiday season and whether or not they have a resolution to lose weight in the upcoming year. Guilt is a very strong response somebody can have to a situation and this is a very ideal case. Another great point that was made is that often throughout the holiday season many will constantly indulge. I think that if people only indulge on christmas, thanksgiving and new years they would not have to worry much about their bodies. It would be interesting to see a study that compares those who indulge just on those days compared to frequently during this season

The study does seem to be incomplete. For example, for the measurements of peoples' BMI's to be as objective as possible, you would presumably need the group to be of similar age, gender, race, weight, height, and eating habits since all these things can influence it. I don't know that I fully believe Melanson's view has credibility, although I would admit that I've always been skinny regardless of what I eat or how much I exercise and I do eat very slowly. However I also tend to eat a lot, so I would think that would sort of work against the idea of the brain telling your stomach that its full unless I just have a big appetite. I'd also like to know what the evidence is for how long it takes the brain to tell the stomach its full. If you think about it, you can eat really really fast and immediately get cramps and feel bloated from it even if you aren't actually full. Does the brain overcompensate because you ate so much in such a short amount of time? If you took an extra 10 minutes to eat the same amount of food couldn't you very well still be hungry afterwards? Why is it in one situation you are full and in another you're not when its the same amount of food?

This is a great post especially during the holiday season! I have lost a lot of weight throughout my life because I was a wrestler. I never really did it the "healthy" way but I did learn a few tricks as well. I did notice that when I ate slower I seemed to feel fuller and therefore eat less. The definitely works, however it does work because you eat less. I totally agree that it seems that the study is missing this fact. It doesn't matter if you eat slow or fast if your eating the same amount, the calorie count is the same. For me I found that losing weight is simple, burn more calories than you take in. Well this study doesn't account for the amount of calories that were eaten. The controls would have to be exercise, genetics, amount of calories eaten, as well as the type of calories. Overall I agree that eating slower is a great tip to try and remain slim over the holidays!

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