With the holidays around the corner, there are more news reports about battling the “festive five” during the heavy meals of winter, and the new idea is to avoid gaining weight by making better choices as opposed to putting weight loss on your New Year’s resolutions list.
About the term “festive five,” a commonly cited source for the phrase is a 2007 NY Times article. In it, they discuss a New England Journal of Medicine study that shows that approximately five pounds of weight is gained during the holidays. Worse, this weight often sticks around significantly longer than a pound gained during other times of the year.
Since 2007, a bumper crop of tips have appeared about ways to avoid gaining weight during the holidays. For example, Centre Daily writes that the latest idea for avoiding the festive five is to consider avoiding as many problem foods as possible so that “lose weight” is not on your list of New Year’s resolutions.
Some of their advice also includes implementing portion control, and this means eating everything you love, but in smaller amounts. They also state that the 5-2-1-0 system is helpful to avoid holiday weight gain and clarified with the following.
“During the holidays and every day, aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, a maximum two hours of TV time, at least one hour of physical activity and zero sugar-sweetened beverages.”
In another example of preventing the festive five, My Daily Record published an article on November 1 about a “holiday weight gain” challenge from November 22 to January 2. In Harnett County, the Holiday Challenge Program is free, and is sponsored by the health department.
Along with weekly classes that focus on nutrition and physical fitness tips, they are also giving away prizes. About the program’s goals for avoiding the festive five, public health educator, Belinda Rayner, stated, “Rather than focusing on trying to lose weight — a difficult task at this time of year — this free six-week challenge provides participants with tips and ideas to help them maintain their weight throughout the holiday season.”
Villages News in Florida says the state is part of an initiative that partners with North Carolina State University, and their program is called the “Maintain, Don’t Gain! Holiday Challenge.” 2016 is their third year for the program, and it was initiated to address the high percentage of obesity in the state.
Seattle Times guest author, RDN and CD, Christine Stirparo, of Pacific Medical Centers, writes on November 6 that advice about not gaining weight from holiday treats means eating smaller portions, but also getting enough sleep. About the problem with getting less sleep and holiday weight gain, Stirparo says, “fatigue can make it much more challenging to feel energized for a workout or resist tempting holiday treats.”
Consumer Reports published an article on October 21, and their unique advice about avoiding the festive five included tips for dealing with “food pushers.”
In instances where it is considered rude to refuse a second portion, Brian Wansink, Ph.D., recommends “just take smaller portions” for every portion. Wansink also said you will not look rude because he has found “hosts recall who asked for second helpings but that they don’t notice the serving size.”
Although avoiding the festive five holiday weight gain is a concern for many Americans, there are certain instances where portion control is not a solution, and the food must be avoided altogether.
For example, Lexington Herald-Leader gives food-refusing etiquette advice for diabetics on November 4, and stated that if you have an issue with blood sugar, it is not rude to “bring your favorite dish to share” to holiday events.
When all else fails, Benzinga says that creating holiday meals from scratch to avoid winter weight gain is the best idea. For example, in Pembroke Pines, Florida, CardioMender published a press release stating they would have an open house that “features all new holiday, but also any day recipes, products and ideas on how to lose weight safely and effectively while celebrating the holiday season.”
[Feature Image by Peggy Greb via Wikimedia Commons]