The Eating Season (Halloween through Super Bowl Sunday) is a major contributor to expanding waistlines and poor health in the United States. Embracing these six, research-backed strategies, recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will put you on the road to better health and weigh management.
Know Your Number. Setting a goal for your weight during the eating season is simple, yet often overlooked. By entering the eating season without one, you’re much more likely gain weight with the rest of the country. Realistic goals like preventing or minimizing weight gain help you confront a chronic health problem, holiday weight gain.
Step Up. Weighing yourself at least once a week has been shown to improve weight management outcomes. The all too common practice of avoiding the scale until after the eating season sets you up for unwanted weight gain.
Add Structure. Structured food plans build healthy eating habits by reducing decision anxiety. Decision anxiety is the pressure you experience from making too many food decisions. When decision anxiety peaks most people opt for the easy way out, repeating old unhealthy behaviors. Structured food plans (i.e., menus, shopping lists, etc.) help you practice healthier eating habits by reducing decision anxiety.
Increase Volume. Consuming high quantities of low-calorie foods is an effective way to reduce calories without increasing hunger. A high high-volume diet is a welcome alternative to diets that focus on small quantities of food or fasting. A high-volume diet fills you up while displacing (crowding out) higher calorie foods. The use of blended, high volume, meal replacement shakes, along with whole fruits and vegetables has been shown to increase satiety (fullness) while keeping calories low enough to promote consistent weight loss.
Balance Your Week. Preventing weight gain during the eating season typically requires at least two, weight-loss days per week. Weight loss days are designed to balance (i.e., offset) the high calorie days that are common during the eating season. A weight loss day should include structure and volume.
A high-volume weight loss day during the MEDFITNESS Challenge includes at least three strategically timed, meal replacement shakes, 5 full-cup servings of whole fruits and vegetables (3 vegetables, 2 fruits) and 1 healthy meal (measured lean proteins, whole vegetables and measured whole grains). Here’s what a typical Healthy Shakes day on the MEDFITNESS Challenge looks like:
Breakfast – Strawberry Banana Supreme Smoothie
HMR Vanilla Shake with banana and frozen strawberries
Snack – Any piece of fruit
Lunch – Chocolate Cherry Shake
HMR Chocolate Shake made with frozen dark cherries
Snack – 1-Cup of Fresh Vegetables with low-calorie dressing (~15 calories per tablespoon)
Dinner – Make a Healthy Meal (1 cup of whole grain pasta with spinach and 4 to 6 ounces of salmon) with 1 to 2 cups of mixed vegetables, or a salad with low-calorie dressing (~ 15 calories per tablespoon).
Snack – Butterscotch Mouse
HMR Vanilla Shake and sugar-free butterscotch instant pudding mix
Embrace 2000 per Week. Burning at least 2000 physical activity calories per week will also help prevent weight gain during the eating season. The MEDFITNESS Workout burns approximately 150 calories (women) to 200 calories (men). This leaves an additional 1600 to 1700 calories per week to burn off (~ 235 calories per day) with planned physical activity (walking, biking, hiking, elliptical, rower, etc.).
1. Services Task Force recommendations statement. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2012;
2. International Journal of Obesity, 2007;31:1270-1276.
3. Journal of Gastroenterology, 2007;132:2226-2238.
4. Annual Review of Nutrition, 2001; 21:323-41.