Holiday Foods & Food Cravings

By Marsha Hudnall
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Gingerbread_girl The holiday season is in full swing at this point.  I’ve received BIG presents of chocolate (including the Harry & David/cheesecake kind) from at least two family members, and I’ve got several holiday parties and a trip that promises lots of good eating on the horizon.  Needless to say, my usual eating pattern has shifted just a TAD to include richer foods than usual. 

Rather than be anxious about all these literal and figurative riches, I’m enjoying the season.  I learned long ago that if I don’t let myself have what I think I want, I’ll end up eating even more of it than if I just go ahead and enjoy.  Sally Squires in her Washington Post Lean Plate Club column recently discussed a study on food cravings, and it reminded me of this point.  She quoted a study published in the journal Appetite that showed ‘overly restricting some foods, especially carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and cookies, can backfire and fuel cravings.” 

Food cravings are a complicated subject, about which a lot of research is going on.  At Green Mountain, though, we’ve discovered there’s great help to be gained from the idea of moderation.  Not only do we avoid the rebound effect mentioned in the study above, it helps us continue to feed ourselves well in the midst of plenty, such as the holidays.   

Moderation requires that we support our bodies by eating well and staying active, listening and responding intelligently to the cues our bodies give us.  These tips from our FitBriefing on carbohydrate cravings can help us do this.

• Eat regularly – when hungry, generally about every 3-5 hours.
• Eat well balanced – that means a balance of protein foods; vegetables, fruits, whole grains and starchy vegetables (which include plenty of fiber), and healthy fats most of the time.
• Eat what you like – to avoid the diet deprivation that can trip us up. If this is confusing because of the previous point, read our FitBriefing "Redefining Healthy Eating"
• Stay active – so your body can operate efficiently.

As you go through the remaining days of this holiday season, try to put and keep these simple guidelines in place.  They can make the difference between a joyous holiday season and one fraught with food and weight worries.

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