The UK is fast becoming an obese nation, and is already the fattest nation in Western Europe. A report published in 2013 showed that 24.9% of the population of the UK were obese. That’s triple what it was 30 years ago, and it’s expected that more than half the population will be obese by 2050.1
Tis the season for indulgence and it’s ever more difficult to eat healthily when we’re surrounded by sweet and savoury treats. At the time, we think ‘ah it’s the holidays’, so we don’t worry too much.
Weight gain during the holidays
It’s important to try to keep on top of the extra treats we eat, as the weight can creep on. It’s generally understood that a pound is equal to 3,500 calories, so if we eat 500 extra calories per day for seven days, we gain a pound. This can have a huge effect on your health, as it is very easy to consume an additional 3,500 calories - and more - over the holiday period.2
Holiday weight gain might seem inevitable, and it might well be. There are a lot of social gatherings: twelve pubs of Christmas, catch ups over wine and cheese, the family dinners. These all are things that we don’t do as frequently as throughout the month of December, and when we couple this indulgence with the sedentary lifestyle we have over the holidays, it all adds up to a huge excess of calories.
Risks of being overweight or obese
Being obese can lead to a number of health complications, including Type 2 Diabetes. Obesity is the most common cause of the development of Type 2 Diabetes,3 and 90% of all people with diabetes in the UK have Type 2.4 Not all people who are overweight or obese develop Type 2 Diabetes, but they are at an increased risk.
Similarly, those who are overweight and obese are vulnerable to developing coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is when your heart’s blood supply is blocked by fatty substances in the coronary arteries.5 The walls of the arteries are then fuzzy with the fatty substance that has built up.
How to stay healthy during the holidays
It is possible to enjoy yourself and indulge with friends and family over the festive period while avoiding piling on the pounds. The main thing is to have everything in moderation. You don’t have to avoid mulled wine and mince pies and chocolate to keep your weight in control, just have them in moderation. Don’t overdo it.
Try to go for a walk. I know, after you’ve had your big dinner, you just want to sit down and relax. If you go out for a small walk you’ll get some fresh air, and a bit of exercise, too. Before you sit down to eat, make sure you drink a big glass of water. This will fill you up a bit, and stop you from overeating at dinner time. Likewise, ensure your dinner plate is balanced. Your plate should be full of vegetables and protein, with a smaller amount of carbohydrates and limit your gravy and cranberry sauce as they are full of sugar and salt.
Supplements to help with your appetite
There are a number of supplements that can be helpful during the holidays to keep on top of your weight. Keep reading to find out a bit about what these supplements are and how they might help.
This is the active ingredient in chili peppers, and is responsible for their heat. This is also great at reducing your appetite. It curbs cravings, and studies have backed this up. Appetite found that a 4 mg dose of capsaicin taken daily for 12 weeks led to people consuming 250 calories less per day.6
This is a fibre that has been proven to satiate hunger. It absorbs water in the gut and swells, leading to a feeling of fullness. Not only that, but fibre slows the movement of food from your stomach to your intestines which makes you feel fuller for longer. This is a great supplement to suppress your appetite, but it’s not recommended to do so without talking to your GP.7
This is found in tea, and while it doesn’t suppress your appetite, it boosts your metabolism. It does this by boosting the activity of your cells, which increases your body’s need for energy. This ultimately leads to a speeding up of the rate at which you burn calories. Studies have found that a catechin supplement could lead to weight loss of one pound per month.8
Things to do to reduce weight gain during winter
The NHS has a website full of information about eating healthy and having a healthy lifestyle. It even has a section dedicated to avoiding winter weight gain, which often happens because the days are shorter, making it more difficult to motivate ourselves to go out for a walk.
The NHS recommends doing small things to stay active indoors, too. These include: taking the stairs rather than the lift or the escalator, doing things like yoga or pilates, doing a workout using online fitness videos.
Also, stocking up on frozen fruits and vegetables is a good way to ensure you always have them. They don’t go off, and you can simply use as much as you need, without any going to waste. Batch cooking stews and soups is also a good idea, because you can divide them into portions, and freeze any leftovers. They defrost well, too, so you can always have some ready if you’re in the mood for something quick and easy. That way you might be less inclined to opt for a takeaway. It’ll work out cheaper, too!
You might feel like it’s inevitable that you put on a few pounds over the holidays, and most people do. There are ways to minimise this weight gain, and even avoid it altogether. The important thing to remember is to eat balanced meals, that aren’t carb reliant, and have more protein and vegetables. These foods keep you fuller for longer, and help you keep your immunity up as well. It’s a time to enjoy yourself and catch up with friends and family, but that doesn’t mean you have to pile the weight on, either. Just moderate your intake of sugary, fatty foods and try to stay active.