News, Announcements and Expert Commentary from Inova

Hold the Trimmings: Four strategies for maintaining your weight during the holidays

View the latest issue of inHealth (PDF) (October 3, 2013) When the weather outside is frightful, for those of us watching our waistlines, so is the nonstop supply of homecooked meals, food-focused festivities and towers of treats at the office. Not surprisingly, most of us put on a few pounds over the holidays. And according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, that excess weight may be hard to reverse.

“People who have a genetic and otherwise easy disposition toward weight gain are at higher risk to gain a whole lot more than just a few pounds during the holidays and that weight is tremendously difficult to lose,” says Kajal Zalavadia, MD, a bariatrician at Inova.

Save the Date!

What: “Survive and Thrive” Workshop: Happy Holidays, Healthy Weight

When: Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 from 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

Where: International Country Club
13200 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway
Fairfax, VA

Info: Call 703.348.4716 or email


This holiday season, by planning ahead and developing a strategy for success, says Dr. Zalavadia, you can avoid gaining extra weight. Here are four tried-and-true tactics:

1.   Deck the halls, then hit the deck: With all the holiday hustle and bustle, scheduling gym time can be challenging. But don’t despair. Researchers found that even short spurts of exercise, such as brisk walking, can temporarily raise your metabolism. Boosting your metabolism even temporarily helps you burn calories faster.

2.   Don’t skimp on shut-eye: Sometimes sleep takes a back seat to your holiday to-do list. Unfortunately, the downside to sleep deprivation is weight gain. “If you are sleep deprived, this may lead to an increase in the appetite hormone, ghrelin, which in turn stimulates hunger and appetite. This suggests inadequate sleep contributes to obesity,” Dr. Zalavadia says.

3.   Just say no. You may feel pressure to take a second helping of your great aunt’s chocolate cream pie at a family gathering, or sip calorie-laden eggnog at an office party. Have a rebuff ready, advises Dr. Zalavadia. “You can prepare in advance by having a respectful but firm and polite way of declining holiday indulgences that are
outside of your plan,” she says.

4.  Spoil your appetite. To avoid overeating at a dinner party, munch on a nutritious snack 30 minutes before your arrival. “I recommend eating a snack that contains healthy fat and protein, rather than a starch or a sugar, since that will simply make you hungrier later,” according to Dr. Zalavadia.


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Click to see more news and articles from Inova Fair Oaks Hospital in the Summer / Fall 2013 issue of INhealth magazine:  Read more arrow

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