It’s the same every year. The holidays roll around, which means gluttony in the form of turkey, ham, pie and sweets. Then, when the holidays are over, the dreaded diets begin.
According to some health enthusiasts, this vicious holiday cycle can be easily avoided . Even the post-holiday pounds can be prevented without sacrificing the pumpkin pie, candied yams or other sugary delights.
Daniel Tovar, a mechanical engineering master’s student from California, said it’s not a holiday without lots of food.
“It’s fun to eat, you’re around company, it’s just one of the things to do to enjoy the holidays,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy myself, and on those days I don’t worry about exercising. I’m just going to eat, drink and be merry and exercise tomorrow.”
Tovar, like many others, said he feels after holidays he needs to change his eating habits back to normal and reintroduce exercise into his daily routine. He said this helps rid him the fat feeling the holidays leave behind.
Kylie Cobb, public health major and coordinator of the wellness program at BYU, said the holidays are often incorrectly labeled as unhealthy, but in actuality, holidays can bring lots of healthy foods to the table.
“I actually think the holidays get kind of a bad rap for all the junk food … but it can actually be a really good opportunity to eat healthy because there are lots of foods, but there’s a lot of healthy foods too,” Cobb said.
Managing portions will help in maintaining a healthy holiday. Seeing a lot of food on the table tends to make people eat more, but that doesn’t have to happen, the wellness coordinator said.
“If you just look at the table and decide what you want most, then just have the things you want most instead of the things you don’t really care to have,” she said.
Getting adequate sleep can also help curb an appetite. When the body is sleep deprived it is also energy deprived, so it tries to compensate through the consumption of more calories. Exercising can also shrink the cravings, Cobb said.
Tres Hatch, author of the weight loss book “Miracle Pill,” said having the right mindset is key to staying healthy through the holidays. Healthy people do not obsess about what they cannot eat, but they listen to their bodies for what they should eat.
“I think it’s very distracting to categorize food into healthy and unhealthy because, you know, very healthy, fit people have a treat too once in a while,” Hatch said. “It doesn’t involve restriction, thinking, ‘I am going to have this instead of that’; it involves hearing our body.”
Hatch recommends enjoying the food the holidays bring, but also listening to the body for what type of foods the body needs. A single meal of overindulgence will not put someone’s body out of balance; people just need to listen to their bodies the next day and drink plenty of water. If the food consumed is what the body needs, it will taste good, Hatch said.
“No one’s weight is defined by a single meal; it isn’t Thanksgiving dinner that can turn someone from a lifetime of thin into suddenly a fat person,” she said. “Eat what your body feels like, have what your body needs because it will always taste the best. If your body doesn’t need a piece of pie, that pie, no matter how carefully it is prepared, will not be satisfying, not on a full body level.”