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Festive season weight gain can persist for months
January 3, 2017, 11:30 am

The festive season is here and for many people it is the time to eat, drink, and be merry — in excess. But be careful when overindulging; up to half of any weight gained over the holidays is likely to linger well into 2017.

New research shows that weight gained over the holidays can remain for six months or more. The recent study of nearly 3,000 adults from across three countries found that in the 10 days after the week-long holidays of Christmas and New Year, there was up to a 0.6 percent increase in weight gain, compared with the 10 days before Christmas. Furthermore, the researchers found that by the following summer, participants had only lost around half of the weight gained over the holidays.

It is perhaps no surprise that the festive season can lead to weight gain. According to the researchers in the United Kingdom, festive gorging is likely to add up around 6,000 calories, which is almost three times the recommended daily calorie intake.

Furthermore, these calories can be hard to burn. Nutritionists note that it takes 44 minutes to walk off a large glass of spiced beverage, while burning off the calories from Christmas dinner would take 1 hour and 40 minutes of running.

Based on their findings, the researchers say that while healthcare professionals should advise patients to employ greater self-control over their eating during the holiday season, it may be more beneficial to warn them of the persistent weight gain due to holiday calories.

The festive season is a time for many of us to take a well-deserved break and enjoy good food and good company, so it is only natural that we tend to treat ourselves over the holidays. However, there are a number of ways to limit the damage when it comes to food intake over the holidays.

Dietitians recommend several tips that people can employ to avoid overeating during the holidays. They point out that there are an array of healthful holiday foods to choose from, such as whole cranberries, multicolored cauliflower, and other seasonal fruits and vegetables.

They also recommend:

Avoid sitting down to dinner on an empty stomach: around an hour before the festive dinner, eat an apple or a cup of vegetable soup. This will increase satiety and reduce the desire to pile up your plate

Choose wisely: think about whether what you are eating is really worth the calories. Is there a healthier alternative? Choose foods that will satisfy you the most - for example, swap a floured white roll for a sweet potato casserole

Steer clear of the appetizer table: if your festive dinner or lunch is more of a buffet affair than a sit-down meal, try not to lurk around the appetizer table – you will be picking without realizing

Get some exercise: while it can take a lot of exercise to work off a whole day's indulgence, every little bit helps. Why not go out for a post-meal walk with the family?

While the festive season is a time to relax, have fun, and spend some quality time with family and friends, it is important that health is not overlooked during the festivities. Trying not to overindulge and keeping active over the holidays might help a little when it comes to avoiding a nasty shock on the scales and a lot of hard work in the New Year. 

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