Weight gain is a year-round concern, but the holidays can be an especially tempting time to overindulge. The seemingly never-ending get-togethers, holiday office parties, family dinners, and other events revolving around delicious, high-calorie dishes can make even the best intentions go by the wayside.
The orthopedic specialists at Advanced Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Institute (AOSMI) remind their patients that more than just their waistband is affected by holiday weight gain.
“Even a small amount of weight gain can place a substantial burden on weight bearing joints, like the knees and ankles,” explains AOSMI orthopedic specialist, Dr. Gregg Berkowitz. “And that’s not the only concern. Inflammation resulting from weight gain itself, and from high-calorie, high-sugar foods that are often the culprit behind weight gain, can cause pain and impair functioning in all joints in the body.”
The AOSMI team cautions that, no matter how healthy an individual is, he or she cannot afford to throw caution to the wind through the holidays and get back on track in the New Year. They instead advise patients to practice healthy eating strategies throughout the holidays to compensate for occasional indulgences.
“We encourage our patients to save high-carbohydrate and high-fat treats for parties and special events, focusing on maintaining a diet that is higher in protein and fiber, especially throughout the holidays,” says Dr. Berkowitz, who also recommends patients stay active throughout the holidays. “Increased muscle mass promotes metabolism, allowing individuals with more muscle to consume more calories without weight gain. Additionally, exercise will help to support the flexibility and strength of bones and joints.”
Even with the best of intentions, however, it can be difficult to remain committed to a healthy routine. AOSMI offers these tips for staying on track and overcoming temptation at holiday events:
- Don’t arrive hungry. It might seem reasonable to save on calories in anticipation of a holiday feast by skipping lunch or breakfast. However, skipping meals interferes with blood sugar, metabolism, and the body’s hunger signals, and will likely lead to overeating unhealthy dishes.
- Bring a dish. If you aren’t hosting the event, be sure to bring something along (enough for everyone of course) that is health-conscious. It might not be the favorite dish at the party, but a healthy option is always appreciated.
- Mingle. It can be easy to forget that holiday events don’t actually revolve around food–they are intended to be a time to come together and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones. Keeping your focus on chatting and catching up with fellow party attendees can help keep your mind off of the dessert table.