Posted by Nicole on November 20, 2014

The Dangers of Holiday Binging

If there's one thing that's most commonly associated with the better times of the holiday season, it's the food. We like to enjoy turkeys, hams, dressed up desserts, carb-heavy sides, and a load of other delights that are all filled with different rations of sugar, butter, and salt. These traditional foods are great for the winter, because they help us to pack on pounds that we can use to stave off the cold-- at least, that would be your approach if you didn't have the miracle of modern heating and gas.

Our ancestors valued fat, especially during the winter months, because it helped to provide valuable energy that could be used to hunt and generate heat, simply so that one could live through environments that often dropped to near or below freezing temperatures. Body fat also helped with swimming, staying warm in frigid waters, and more. These days, those concerns are really on the back burner, as we instead contend with issues of overeating, heart disease, high sodium, and more. 

Avoiding that Second Helping

As a matter of dealing with appetites and the holiday season, know that eating too much and gaining too much weight during the holidays will make the rest of your year an uphill slough that you'll want to avoid. Here are a few ways that you can avoid holiday binging, and why.

  • Beware carbs. Carbs are great for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the assistance they can provide us with producing serotonin and melatonin, two hormones which help us to feel good and sleep well. In too large a dose, and especially when coming from complex sources, they can also mean packing on pounds. During Thanksgiving and other holiday meals, focus on main courses, and take your sides in moderation. Common side dishes, like mac & cheese, dressing, sweet and mashed potatoes, and more, are all carbohydrate bombs.
  • Moderate your alcohol. After a Thanksgiving meal, on Christmas Eve, and especially around New Year, there are opportunities to drink, and do so in large portions. The important thing to remember is that the calories that are in alcohol (yes, they do exist) actually get in the way of your body's fat burning. Alcoholic calories effectively “queue up” in front of other calories, meaning that your body will have to work hard to get through them before it can even begin to process all of the holiday foods you've eaten.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast before big meals. Again, binging during the big meal is a problem, but it can often be curbed if you have a breakfast that provides essential fats, proteins, and even a little sweetness to scratch that itch. Don't make the mistake of skipping breakfast on Thanksgiving day. Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism.

Remember that binging, and gaining weight, can also effect your mood, and your quality of sleep as well. Alcohol in particular can make sleep less restful, regardless of how much you get. Avoid the binge, and you'll be jolly, or at the very least, not sluggish and tired.