Eat mindfully

Get some rest
Travel and holiday activities like shopping and parties can really affect the amount of sleep you get at this time of year. But getting a good night’s sleep can also be important for your waistline.

A study presented at the 2004 Annual Scientific Meeting of the NAASO, by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Obesity Research Center, demonstrated a clear link between the risk of being obese and the number of hours of sleep each night. This remained true even after controlling for depression, physical activity, alcohol consumption, ethnicity, level of education, age, and gender.

“The results are somewhat counterintuitive, since people who sleep less are naturally burning more calories,” said lead researcher James Gangwisch, a post-doctoral fellow in psychiatric epidemiology at Columbia University, in a NAASO press release. “But we think it has more to do with what happens to your body when you deprive it of sleep as opposed to the amount of physical activity that you get. Other studies have shown that leptin levels decrease and grehlin levels increase in people who are sleep-deprived, leading to increased appetite and consumption.”

Skip the sweet drinks
Eggnog is obviously a culprit when it comes to expanding waistlines. But other sweet drinks served around the holidays can contribute unnecessary calories to your diet. And if you continue to treat yourself to a sweetened beverage, you could impact your health over the long term.

“Soft drinks are the leading source of added sugar in the American diet. They provide a large amount of excess calories and no nutritional value,” said Matthias Schulze in a press released from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), lead author of the study. “Our results show that increasing one’s consumption of sugary soft drinks significantly increases the risk for weight gain and type 2 diabetes.” The study was published in the August 25, 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

So consider choosing herbal tea – at least after the season is over. Happy holidays!

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