Holiday weight gain is no myth and it can take up to five months to lose, according to Real Simple. Researchers at Cornell University found that folks start piling on the pounds in October, peaking just after Christmas.
While some shed the excess weight immediately, others don’t return to their fighting weight until after Easter. And that extra weight usually comes from heart-threatening carbs and sugar as Christmas cookies follow Thanksgiving pies.
Leading nutritionist Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, tells Newsmax that a new 12-month study conducted in Malaysia revealed that a high-carb diet was associated with increased heart disease risk factors while fat intake didn’t “move the needle either way.”
“I’ve been saying for years that fat has been wrongly demonized. If anything, it’s sugar — not fat — that’s causing us to go off the metabolic rails. In this study, low-carb diets performed considerably better than high-carb diets.”
Here are Bowden’s easy holiday swaps that can help control your weight and reduce your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes:
The Naughty List:
- Corn and canola oil. Bowden says these oils are filled with omega-6 fatty acid and a very pro-inflammatory and a prime source of inflammation in the American diet. Butter is better or see the oil listed in the list below.
- Sugar. “Let’s be realistic,” says the expert. “I know you’re probably not going to give up your favorite holiday pie or cookies. But be kind to your heart by restricting these goodies to just a few days during the holidays.”
- Canned soups, gravies, salad dressings and pasta sauces. “These products are often loaded with hidden sugars and a ton of sodium. In fact, processed and canned foods are by far the biggest sources of sodium in the American diet—exceeding the salt shaker.”
- White rice and white flour. Bowden, known as “The Nutrition Myth Buster,” says that these heavily processed products raise your blood sugar almost as much as pure sugar.
- Many whole grain products are just as bad. Foods prepared with whole grains may not have enough fiber to best their white counterparts and the glycemic index is similar as well.
- Pecan pie. “As much as it pains me to add pecan pie to this list since it is one of my favorites, from a damage control point of view this dessert is lethal. It’s overwhelmed by corn syrup, sugar, flour and a boatload of calories!” says Bowden. “Swap it out for a slice of pumpkin pie.”
- Soda. This beverage flows freely at holiday affairs but both the regular as well as the artificially sweetened kind are nutritional nightmares.
The Nice List:
- Malaysian palm oil. Bowden says you can find this heart-healthy oil on line and in specialty stores. It’s rich in brain and heart healthy vitamin E tocotrienols.
- Stevia and monk fruit. These natural sweeteners have no effect on your blood sugar levels and should replace granulated sugar in many of your holiday dishes and beverages.
- Nuts. Nuts are 80% fat, but contain good fat as well as magnesium which is critical to cell function. Nuts are also high in folate for health brain. Bowden says that people who eat nuts tend to have lower BMI levels.
- Dark chocolate. “Chocolate contains cocoa flavanols, beneficial plant-based phytonutrients that support cardiovascular health,” he says. Make sure that the chocolate you buy has a minimum of 60% cocao on the label.
- Cheese. “One of the delightful discoveries in the last 10 years has been that dairy fat has health properties that have been overlooked,” Bowden, the co- author of Smart Fat: Eat More Fat, Lose More Weight, Get Healthy Now, reveals. One study showed that people who consumed more dairy fat were less likely to die from heart disease than those with lower levels of dairy-related fatty acids.
- Avocados. Avocados are such a perfect food, according to Bowden, that he featured them on the cover of his book, Smart Fat. “Many people have an outdated notion that avocados are fattening. They’re not. They are an incredible source of monounsaturated fat and have way more fiber than a whole grain sandwich!”
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