Take steps to control holiday weight gain

A stable weight depends on a balance between the energy you get from food and the energy you use.

  • Wednesday, December 19, 2012 5:58pm
  • Life

By Dr. Daniel Clerc
For The Courier-Herald

Anyone who’s been on a diet has experienced the frustration of trying to maintain a weight-loss program during the holidays. Because food is the focus of many holiday celebrations, it can be a real challenge to a dieter’s willpower.

A stable weight depends on a balance between the energy you get from food and the energy you use. We use energy during the day in three ways:

• Energy expended during rest (basal metabolism).

• Energy used to break down food (thermogenesis).

• Energy used during physical activity.

Basal metabolism accounts for about two-thirds of spent energy. The body generally uses this energy to keep your temperature steady and the muscles of your heart and intestine working. Thermogenesis accounts for about 10 percent of spent energy.

Our bodies are set to maintain weight within a certain range. That weight range is at least partly determined by our genetic makeup. Genetic makeup refers to certain traits that we inherit from our parents. If a person has the genetic makeup for obesity, eats a lot of high-calorie foods and does not exercise, it is almost certain they will become obese. It will likely be harder for such a person to stay at a healthy weight than someone who does not have the genes for obesity.

Still, there’s a way to approach holiday eating without sabotaging a weight-loss or weight-maintenance program. First, plan plenty of activities for which food is not the primary focus. And when food is an important part of the celebration, it helps to: change some traditional holiday habits; seek support from family and friends; and reduce the holiday stress that often leads to compulsive eating.

Changing some habits can keep your diet going without having to give up holiday treats altogether. For example, make a list of your favorite holiday foods and then pick two or three to enjoy this year. Another technique is to prepare holiday treats in smaller quantities, like baking a small cake that the family will finish at one sitting with no tempting leftovers. Also, use low-calorie, low-fat substitutes for rich ingredients like sugar, butter or cream. Whatever changes you make, it is important to ask your family members and friends to respect your choices and to refrain from tempting you with other holiday goodies.

Sometimes the stress of the holidays causes people to eat more than usual. If that’s the case, it helps to ask family and friends for support and, importantly, to engage in activities that produce feelings of contentment or happiness.

For additional tips for controlling or reducing calories during the holidays, or if you have specific medical concerns about your diet and body weight, talk with your primary care physician or other professional health care provider.

About the writer: Dr. Daniel Clerc specializes in family medicine and sleep medicine at Franciscan Medical Clinic-Enumclaw and is a member of the St. Elizabeth Hospital medical staff. Need a doctor? Call the Franciscan Physician Referral Line 1-888-825-3227 toll-free.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Life

Season' greetings
Send season’s greetings to seniors at Expressions Living Court

Take this opportunity to cheer up local seniors.

In addition to traveling through Enumclaw and Buckley, Santa will also be at the Enumclaw Expo Center's Hometown Holiday Parade Dec. 4 - 6, in place of being a part of the normal Enumclaw holiday parade. File photo
Santa to visit Buckley, Enumclaw neighborhoods

Make sure you know when Old Saint Nick is traveling through your area Dec. 7 - 12.

Dennis Tompkins, "The Evergreen Arborist"
Winter winds are on the way | The Evergreen Arborist

Make sure your trees are in good enough shape to weather the winds.

Hometown holiday poster
‘Hometown Holiday’ parade-in-place set for early December

You can cruise the event on Dec. 4 - 6, but make sure to buy your tickets quick — this event is expected to be packed.

Kanaskat-Palmer State Park is one of several local parks you can visit for free on Nov. 11 and 27. Photo courtesy Washington State Parks
State Parks announces last two ‘free days’ for 2020

Nov. 11 and 27 will be the last time you can visit a state park for free.

A new paved trail, provided by the city of Enumclaw, extends to a point just shy of the city limits. Here, a trail user and canine companion turn and head back toward Battersby Avenue. Photo by Kevin Hanson
Flat, smooth and short: two trails completed on Enumclaw’s north side

A quick tour of the new trail along Battersby Avenue.

Enumclaw City Councilman Beau Chevassus made a fundraiser of Enumclaw's Mail Express at the start of October. Screenshot
GoFundMe arranged for Mail Express

The fundraiser was set up by Enumclaw City Councilman Beau Chevassus.

New rules to giving blood means going maskless like people could back in January is a no-go. Image courtesy Bloodworks Northwest
Give blood to help out Enumclaw High School

Mention “Enumclaw leadership” at the door, and a $10 donation will be made to the school.

Image courtesy the Enumclaw Drama Club
EHS drama students offer remote version of “Frankenstein”

Sign up now to catch a performance on Oct. 29, 30, or 31.

Courtesy image
Local nursing homes offer webinar on senior depression

The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 29.

Enumclaw pumpkin carving master David Hauge will be one of the judges for the upcoming Halloween pumpkin carving contest (no pressure). Pictured is the pumpkin he carved in 2019. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
Pumpkin carving contest planned for Halloween night

The city of Enumclaw is hosting a pumpkin carving contest for all ages Oct. 31.