The holiday season brings parties, presents and an endless array of festive foods. Some people adopt a holiday eating or exercise strategy to offset all the snacking and sipping, while others willingly overindulge, planning to start the new year with a clean slate and new diet plan — the popular but usually ineffective “I’ll start tomorrow” strategy.
Shared meals are a highlight of the holidays. And while it’s easy to overindulge when there are so many delicious dishes on the table, desserts can be especially easy to overeat.
- A 2013 study examining how sugar and fat affect regions of the brain related to overeating showed that when it comes to food cravings, sugar has a stronger impact than fat. (1)
With a few simple tips, you can enjoy sweet treats without overdoing it. Avoiding sugar altogether might be an unrealistic option, but with the right “sugar strategy,” you can indulge wisely.
1. If you don’t drink, there’s no need to start.
For some people—especially pregnant women, people recovering from alcohol addiction, people with a family history of alcoholism, people with liver disease, and people taking one or more medications that interact with alcohol—drinking can be dangerous and harmful to health. There are other ways to boost your heart health and lower your risk of diabetes, such as getting more active, staying at a healthy weight, or eating healthy fats and whole grains.
Coverage from Swiss Re, featuring HSPH’s Frank Hu
Coverage from Harvard Gazette, featuring HSPH’s Dariush Mozaffarian
Coverage from Baltimore Sun, featuring HSPH’s Eric Rimm
Coverage from foodconsumer.org, featuring HSPH’s Frank Hu
For general good health, the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get a minimum of 2-1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. (37) Yet many people may need more than 2-1/2 hours of moderate intensity activity a week to stay at a stable weight. (37)