People Eat More Food After the Holidays, Says Study!
Millions of Americans make the New Year’s resolution each year to lose weight — it’s the most common yearly resolution. But according to a recent study, many people may actually be eating more after the holidays than they do during the holidays, which are a time when a lot of people indulge and put on pounds.
The study, published recently in the journal PLOS ONE, sounds as though many could actually gain weight after the holidays, instead of losing it — some Americans buy more food and more “total calories” at the beginning of the year than they do during the holidays!
For starters, people continue buying holiday favorites in the first couple of months of the year, but they also buy the healthier foods that they expect to eat, to meet their resolutions to lose weight. This results in increased spending on food in the first few months of the new year, and increased calories.
Researchers tracked grocery spending for 200 homes in the state of New York. They examined three periods: “pre-holiday,” from July to Thanksgiving; “holiday,” from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day; and “post-holiday,” from January through March.
Predictably, the research team found that food spending went up by 15 percent during the holiday period, compared to the pre-holiday period. Most of the added purchases were what would be termed junk food.
But what wasn’t predictable was that in the first two months of the new year, food purchases continued to climb, increasing another 9 percent above holiday food-shopping levels. The end result was that people were bringing more calories into their homes in the first months of the year than at any other time that was tracked.
The researchers recommended that instead of continuing to buy less-healthy, calorie-rich holiday favorites in the new year, people add more produce and other nutrient-rich foods to their grocery carts.
Examples of Nutritious, Healthy Foods
It should be underlined that “healthy foods” does not mean bland foods, and it doesn’t mean you can never eat sweets (unless you can’t have sweets for health reasons).
For example, using fresh or dried herbs and spices is an excellent, nutrition-packed way to add a lot of flavor and zest to your foods, while adding just a few calories. As a general rule, red meats and fowl go well with strong or mild herbs and spices, and fish goes well with milder herbs and spices (though peppers — black pepper, cayenne pepper, etc., are good with fish, too).
Instead of dousing your mashed potatoes and meats with gravy, enjoy potatoes with just a little butter or sour cream (non-fat plain yogurt can be substituted as butter or cream, to cut calories). Marinade meats in fresh lemon juice or vinegar, to give them a delightful zest.
Combine many different dried spices and rub them on your poultry (the way the people at KFC do!), and you’ll get an exquisite taste for just a few more calories. Enjoy the natural juices of meats, which are high in iron and other valuable nutrients, instead of adding sauces or dressings to the meats and throwing the juices away.
As for desserts, be wary of most cakes and pies sold in supermarkets, as they contain a lot of chemicals and non-nutritive fillers. Try making your own pastries at home — it’s not hard and it’s a lot of fun. Bake your own cookies, folding in nuts, raisins, etc., for added fiber and nutrition. Fiber has the power to fill you up, without excessive calories.
Which brings us to our next point: vegetables — powerhouses of natural fiber and nutrients. Where people who carry excess weight very often go wrong is that they don’t eat enough vegetables. Eating a variety of them is one of the best ways to cut calories, while giving your body lots (thousands!) of different nutrients, as well as fiber that will help you eliminate waste — very important. Buy organic vegetables whenever possible.
Try squirting a little fresh lemon juice and salt, or a little butter, on lightly steamed vegetables. Mustard is another highly nutritious, low-calorie dressing, great for raw vegetables. Leave the chemical, high-calorie salad dressings at the store!
Eating Balanced Meals
Another point where many people go wrong, as far as keeping their weight down, is that they don’t balance their meals. It’s important to mix proteins and fats with carbohydrates. A few decades ago, many people had bought into the hype that fat was to be avoided like the plague; but that approach is incorrect. Fat is a necessary part of our daily diet — you just don’t want to get too much of it. For example, trim the fat off beef or chicken before you cook them and stick to low-fat dairy.
You also don’t want to double up or triple up on starchy carbohydrates, eating mashed potatoes, stuffing and bread, for instance. Instead, keep in mind that you only need one starch for your meal to be balanced. If you eat a good serving of potatoes, you don’t need to eat bread, and vice-versa. If you eat a healthy serving of stuffing, you don’t need to eat bread.
Eating some lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and a measured amount of starch will fill you up and nourish you, without eating too many calories.
The advantage of preparing meals at home as much as possible is that you know what you put in the food; but even when you eat out, increasing numbers of restaurants now offer healthy fares for their customers.
Remember that you usually get what you pay for, when it comes to food; you may save money by eating from the dollar menu at your nearby fast food restaurant, but realistically speaking, that food will contain chemical preservatives and who knows what parts of the animal, or the circumstances in which the animal was raised (i.e., excessive antibiotic use, inferior-quality feeds, etc.).
The avoidance of chemicals in the foods we eat is something that almost no nutritionist talks about; but it is every bit as important as all other considerations. Even though not a lot of studies are done about food chemicals, the studies that have been done — and our very logic — can tell us that artificial chemicals are a good thing to avoid.
By Jamell Andrews