Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Winter Weight Gain is Not Just Winter

I bet you think winter weight gain is something that happens to many people who live in climates with cold winters.  Not true.  It’s not just the winter weather that brings the weight gain. If you track your weight you may notice that it's harder to lose in the fall, winter then in the spring and summer seasons of the year.  It’s all those carb loaded, fat infused and sugary comfort foods that ring in all the holidays. Let’s face it starting with Halloween most people’s diets begin to roll down hill, gaining momentum through Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day crashing right into all those delicious Easter eggs!

Packing on that winter fat is not a myth. According to a study by Cornell University published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September 2016 — Weight Gain over the Holidays in Three Countries on average most people begin gaining weight around November, peaking in January continuing to gain weight through April.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 1 in 3 Americans are obese, so it’s safe to say this weight gain does not only happen over holiday periods or only in cold climates. The general thinking is most people, even those of normal weight, gain a few pounds when the weather begins to turn cold. However, that is not totally true. In a study in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2000 examined how much of the average annual weight gain happens over the holidays vs. other times of the year. In general, the findings demonstrate the annual increase in weight jumped to 3.4% in men and 5.2% in women. What this means to you is for every 100 lbs. you weight, you weight you will gain 3.4 lbs. – 5.2 lbs. per year.

It’s possible to avoid winter weight gain. To do this, let’s look at some of the factors that go into winter weight gain. The first is a biological tendency that’s carried in our genes and is there to help us survive in cold climates. Our bodies are simply programmed to store more fat as winter approaches. And we're not the only ones. Most animals do this too.

It's easy to see why when you think about it. More fat means more protection from the cold and more stored nutrients that the body can access if food is hard to find in the winter months. Our bodies don't know that we can walk into a store and buy polar level winter clothing and any food we need, no matter what the weather is like outside.

The second factor if food availability. In in primitive societies, there was always plenty of food in the fall, the time when nuts, fruits and grains are ripe. It makes sense that we would feel hungrier at this time and crave 'warming' high carbohydrate foods that can easily be converted to fat and stored ready for the late winter and spring when plant-based foods are hard to find.

The third factor to consider is mood. It is well known that having less natural light can cause depression and low energy (SAD or seasonally affected depression). Most people who are overweight tend to eat more when they feel low. We also turn to food (especially refined carbohydrate foods like chips, chocolate, cake or white bread) for a fast energy boost when we feel tired. These foods cause blood sugar swings that lead to more lows and cravings.

Understanding knowing all of this makes it much easier to avoid winter weight gain. It helps to know why you might feel like you are fighting an uphill battle understanding you have a natural tendency to eat more and to eat the wrong foods this time of year. You may be thinking it’s hard for everybody and you can’t be expected to hold out against a biological need. If you do. Sorry you’d be wrong. In this case your biology does not need to determine your destiny.  You can be careful what foods you do choose.

As a society our time has long passed since we were considered a primitive society. So are the times of food scarcity and healthy foods being not readily accessible. Most of us live with a quick driving distance from a well-stocked supermarket, food market or farmers market loaded with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  

There’s no longer a need to pack on those winter pounds so choosing high carbohydrate foods that you may be craving is not only not a clever idea, it’s causing you to gain weight, develop heart disease and cancer by some experts are all considered to be preventable by choosing whole foods and a healthier lifestyle.

Experts agree losing excess weight or avoiding additional weight gain takes a combination of exercise, improved food choices and behavioral changes. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says losing just 5% to 7% of current body weight can prevent or improve chronic health conditions related to obesity. If losing weight seems daunting, start by adjusting so no more weight is gained.

A good place to start is with healthy food choices. The USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends ...
✔️avoiding sugar and ‘bad” fats all together, 
✔️choosing whole gains and 
✔️dairy products sparingly plus 
✔️adding in the ‘good’ fats such as nuts, seeds and plant oils. 

The USDA goes on to recommend eating 
✔️7 – 13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day to improve and maintain good health.  This means to meet this recommendation you will need to eat fruits and vegetables 5 – 6 times per day just to be able to eat this large amount of produce to get and stay healthy.

Many find this to be hard to eat all those fruits, vegetables and plant oils in, so they seek some way to add them in a supplement form. The question is what supplement is the best? It’s always best to eat whole food closest to the way nature made it. Whole food is the recommended diet for disease prevention, so it just makes sense whole food concentrated nutrition supplement is the way to go. 

After many years of research, we recommend the most researched product in the world produced by The Juice Plus+ Company.  Juice Plus+ whole food nutrition has been on the market for 25 years and the company who distributes Juice Plus+ for almost 50 years. Juice Plus+ nutrition bridges the gap between what we do eat and what we should eat. Recently The Juice Plus+ Company also introduced the JuicePlus+ Tower Garden a cutting-edge way to grow your own fruits and vegetables in your home, on your patio or porch using hydroponic technology.

If you can keep your food choices as fresh as possible, in the recommended quantity, minimizing fats, sugars and fast foods you can be sure you don't have to settle on your ever-expanding waistline. You can enjoy being the picture of health while easily avoiding that pesky annual winter weight gain.

This article 1st appeared in Fresh Lifestyle Magazine 2018.

Your partner in health, 

Certified Health Coach
Wellness Consultant 
Top 50 Health Promotion Professional 

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