How the Christmas Festivities Lead to Rapid Weight Gain
Posted on 2nd December 2021 at 13:45
Now is the perfect time to start planning your contingencies for Christmas. With three weeks to go, Christmas parties are about to begin and families are gathering for the annual festivities.
Let’s face it, with all that pudding on offer, drinks to be consumed and turkey to be eaten, you are not going to get away scott-free on the scales this year if you don’t start strategizing how to beat the bulge before the season is upon you. Now I am not suggesting you gain your sainthood by forgoing every treat you feast your eyes on. Heck, I’ve never done it so I am not about to ask you to start. But what I am saying, and I actively do, is to reduce the impact of all that deliciousness through some simple strategies. I’ll get to the strategies in the next blog post but first, let’s look at how the Christmas festivities lead to rapid weight gain.
The biggest threat to our health and wellbeing over the Christmas is not one slice of pudding, one whiskey, one dinner, one late night or even one missed training but it is the cumulative effects of all these things on your body, specifically your blood sugars. Our body’s regulation of blood sugar is the most important factor in Diabetes, Obesity and gaining some lbs over the holidays.
Why might that be? You may ask.
Most people think blood sugar is impacted by their diet alone but there is so much more going on than that. If you think about it, the body breaks down food and stored fat into blood sugar. The sugar is ideally used by the body to create energy which then allows you to go do stuff. Stuff like exercise, run away from stressors or fight them as needs be. But if you oversupply your body with food or under-use your energy, blood sugars become dysregulated. Dysregulated blood sugars lead to an increase in weight, obesity and diabetes over time.
It is for this reason that you can gain a huge amount of weight in short space of time, like at Christmas. Blood sugars are affected in five ways by our lifestyle, these are:
Our Circadian Rhythms (Sleep patterns and frequent flying through time zones)
#1: General Stress
over the Christmas comes in the form of running around after your tail, trying to make everybody else happy, trying to have a perfect Christmas and generally taking on too much for you to handle. Stress signals the brain to demand food because food is a quick fix to giving us energy and making us feel better. Eating food mindlessly while trying to get all your work done is a sure-fire way to overeating and upsetting your blood sugars. It also leads us to making poor food choices, which we’ll look at in point #4.
#2: Our Circadian Rhythm
Our Circadian Rhythm is our biological clock. It is set in time with our age, lifestyle and most importantly sunlight. At this time of year we attend parties and we tend to give ourselves more jobs than we can handle (see point #1- stress above). Parties inevitably keep us up past our bed-time, upsetting our Circadian rhythm. An overwhelming workload also keeps us up late and it can also get us up earlier than normal too. If we are flying home to family, it also has a disastrous effect on our rhythms, experienced as jet lag.
Exercise is the great modulator of our blood sugars. Contrary to what many may believe, it’s not about training hard but exercising often. Regular exercise as simple as walking boosts your metabolism and helps to control blood sugars. If you are already weights training then that is better news because the added muscle density and mass is a further mechanism for controlling blood sugars. However, we tend to ditch our workout routines over the Christmas in favour of movies, feasts and frolics. Maybe that is not such a good idea afterall!!
Nutrition, as all people with diabetes know too well, affects our blood sugars. It affects us by two means. The first is what we eat and the second is how much.
Meals high in carbohydrates (sugary foods) cause spikes and dips to your blood sugars faster than almost anything else. Christmas, unfortunately, is laced with carb-rich meals. Potatoes, dairy, soups, sauces, cakes, biscuits, tarts, pies, toast and drinks are all carbohydrate-heavy foods.
Eating a disproportionate amount of these foods over a month period is bound to upset your blood sugars and add lbs to your waist. Coupled with what we eat is how much we eat. Eating in excess of any food group oversupplies the body with the demand for energy and upsets our blood sugars.
The most potent foods are ones high in sugar and fat, like tarts, doughnuts and pies. The fat in these foods oversupplies calories (food energy) to the body and the carbohydrates disrupts the blood sugar. Together, they are a ticking time bomb for weight gain.
Last but not least is Alcohol. Alcoholic drinks are also calorie dense and rich in carbohydrates which upset blood sugars drastically and add lbs to you in no time.
Two beers are the equivalent to ¼ of all your daily energy needs if you’re a male and just over 1/3 of your needs if you’re female. If that wasn’t bad enough, alcohol itself is a poison. The combination of the calories, the carbohydrates and the poison place a huge desire for the body to store alcohol in fat cells, making you gain lbs over the Christmas period.
Hopefully, you can now see why Christmas is such a breeding ground for adding lbs to the scales for you.
It’s not just the amount of food you eat (although that does have a role to play). It’s also the type of foods, the stress of Christmas, excessive amounts of alcohol, a lack of exercise and the upset to your body’s rhythms which results in the weight gain. All is not lost though and I’m not about to ban you for all the joys of Christmas. Rather, in my next blog post, I’ll show you 3 strategies for beating the Christmas bulge while still enjoying the festivities.
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