STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

With the holidays coming up, the highlight for many people during this season is gathering with family and friends and enjoying favorite holiday treats. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest while not increasing your waistline.

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MAKING AND KEEPING NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Only 8 percent of individuals achieved their resolutions in 2016, according to Statistic Brain. This is likely due to most people having unrealistic expectations about the speed, ease and consequences of the resolutions they make. People attempting self-change rarely succeed the first time; most need five or six attempts, according to a paper published in American Psychologist by Janet Polivy and Peter Herman. The authors suggest false hope syndrome is the cause for failure.

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HEALTHY HOLIDAY OPTIONS

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. These celebrations often consist of many delicious treats and hardy meals. You can still maintain a healthy diet with a little thought and planning in advance. Research from a recent Web-based survey found 18 percent of people feel they cannot eat healthily during the holidays because they don’t want to miss out on their favorite foods. You can still eat the foods you enjoy this season, just in moderation.

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Sources and Resources:


Lowe, M.R. and Butryn, M.L. (2007) Hedonic hunger: a new dimension of appetite?

Physiological Behavior. 2007 Jul 24; 91(4):432-9. WebMD (2017) Food and Recipes Overview. (www.webmd.com/food-recipes/default.html)

Obesity and weight management are the focus of many people’s lives. Recognizing people have struggled for centuries to manage weight, the challenges continue to present problems in the 21st century, and they are getting worse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an annual increase in obesity at the rate of 11 percent for the past five years. Weight-loss products include food, drugs, supplements, services, ingredients, devices, accessories and cosmetics.


Human beings are designed to consume food. They eat to maintain the nutrition necessary for survival. So why is it so difficult to manage or lose weight? Obesity is not just caused by a lack of knowledge or laziness, nor is it an indication of emotional instability.


Several factors play a role in obesity, including genetics, biology and environment.


Each person has to make choices about when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat. In contrast to our ancestors, whose primary task was to seek out any food that would provide energy and nutrients, the choices have become more difficult in today’s world. In Western or Westernized societies in particular, food is cheap and abundant, available through a considerable variety of outlets. In our society, eating is fundamentally a rewarding behavior. The choices we make and how much

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

we consume affects how we feel, thus influencing our moods, emotions and resulting behavior, according to WebMD.


Once we make up our minds to change a bad habit, why do we find ourselves falling back into it? Why can’t we simply make a decision and get on with it? Eating can be triggered even in the absence of hunger or extended beyond satiation (Lowe and Butryn, 2007). Numerous factors are known to determine or guide eating behavior implicitly. For instance, eating may be initiated or prolonged by the presence of other individuals with whom we associate and by their thinking and behavior.


Food choices and consumption are also strongly influenced by environmental factors that include advertising, packaging, emotion, lighting and incentives to buy bigger things. As a consequence, constantly monitoring and self-regulating your eating behavior is necessary in order to eat healthily. The psychology of weight man- agement is in our patterns of thinking and translating that thinking into behavior. We want to eat healthily and enjoy the rewarding aspects of food without falling prey to the loss of control we sometimes experience because of poor choices.  

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller