It is November 1st. While many men may partake in the American tradition of “No Shave November,” several people are unaware of what they won’t be shaving come Thanksgiving: weight.
Thanksgiving marks the unofficial start of the holiday season, which seems fitting. People eat a giant meal to prepare themselves for the hordes of cookies, turkey, potatoes, and other fattening delights they’ll be eating for the next 6 weeks.
Various studies report that the average person gains 1.1 lbs over the holiday season. About 80% of people fail to drop that pound. Meaning all those Christmas pounds will continue to add up over the years into adulthood. So a 35-year-old will weight about 20 pounds more as a 55-year-old due to Christmas alone.
One of the main reasons people gain weight is because there is so much food available. Christmas is the second most important reason people share food in the workplace (birthdays are first). Sharing food, however, can lead to its own problems. If people fail to follow food safety procedures (which happens more frequently than not), that food can become breeding grounds for bacteria and other nasty germs. The American Dietetic Association recommends that perishable food such as pizza, dips, salads, and pastries not sit out for more than 2 hours.
Weight and food are not the only perpetrators of bad health during the holiday season. A survey done in 2005 showed that Christmas shopping led to a 25% increase in headaches in adults. Christmas season also led to an 11% increase in insomnia.
One of the most dangerous effects the holidays can have on well-being is the lack of healthcare provided during this season. Holiday seasons create delays among healthcare because offices are closed or had shorter hours. This is particularly dangerous for people who suffer from cardiac incidents, such as an embolism or a heart attack, because it is more difficult to find treatment since there are limited facilities for high numbers of people.
So what can you do to avoid being hit by all the negative health effects of Christmas? It’s actually quite simple:
- The hardest part of not trying to gain weight is resisting the temptation to eat fattening foods. So try eliminating the temptation. Bake a dozen cookies every other week instead of every other week, or substitute Christmas cake for strawberry gelatin.
- Don’t bring food into the workplace, and encourage other people to do the same. It’s nice to celebrate Christmas with coworkers, but do you each all really need to bring in a platter of goods to serve 20 people? Organize a group lunch at a restaurant instead.
- Organize your shopping. People get frustrated while shopping because they don’t know what they’re looking for or where they could possibly find it. Make a list of everything you want to buy and where to buy it before you hit the mall. If you prioritize your shopping expenses, you can save yourself time, energy, and Advil.
- Get all your busy work done early in the day so it’s easier to wind down at night. People suffer from insomnia because the stretch out their day buying stuff, making food, wrapping presents, ect. then they have too much on their mind when they go to bed. Take time at the end of the day to relax and unwind so you’ll be more tired when you go to bed.
- Have a plan in case you or a family member has a medical emergency. Know what hospital you’re going to and what you need to do in case anything happens.
- Smile and stay positive! Christmas a festive season and a time to look back on all the blessings you have. Unless you’re homeless, naked, and starving, there is something to be thankful for.
If you’re worried about gaining weight this season, the best thing you can do is try to lose weight before Thanksgiving as I am doing. I’m trying to limit myself to 1500 calories a day until Thanksgiving. I have basically gained all the weight I lost over the summer and I’m not happy about it. But when it comes to losing weight and eating right, it’s all about dedication!