Avoiding the holiday weight gain – Part 1

avoid holiday weight gainBy Lindsey Woodkey, CPT

  1. Don’t Skip Meals: So many of us assume that because we will be indulging in holiday food we should skip breakfast and lunch in order to save our calories. This will only slow your metabolism to a crawl and leave you ravenous. Instead, eat a light protein snack before you head out. You will be less hungry and more likely to stick to your healthy game plan.
  2. Forget STRICT Dieting: On Thanksgiving and Christmas allow yourself to go off your diet a little. Trying to stay strict will only set you up for failure. Instead, allow yourself to indulge within reason, in the items you truly love. It is only one day a year, and to gain even one pound, you would need to consume an EXTRA 3,500 calories (that’s above the 1,500-3,000 you’ll burn that day). Just don’t let one “treat” day become a week or three. Waiting until January 1st to work off the pounds will leave you with more work than you bargained for.
  3. Watch out for the appetizers: Do not just sit down in front of the table of starters (chips, crackers, meats, cheeses, unhealthy dips). Instead, grab a small plate, load up on the healthy items (veggies, fruits, dry roasted nuts, low fat meats), and just a few of your favorites. Limit yourself to one trip to the appetizer table; you’ll be eating in no time anyway.
  4. When dishing up, think “islands” not a “mountain”: Take small portions of the items you enjoy. You should be able to see your plate when you dig in.
  5. Start with the veggies: Fill up on steamed veggies or a starter salad (as long as it is not doused in a creamy dressing) before beginning on your higher calorie items. This will give your body a chance to tell your brain when you’ve had enough, leaving you less likely to overeat. It’s the rule of “volumetrics”— you can feel full on fewer calories eating foods with a lot of volume for their calorie content. Vegetables contain a lot of water therefore they fill you up without filling you out. Along the same lines, you can have 3 cups of popcorn for the same number of calories as 2 small Hersey’s Kisses. Which will leave you feeling fuller?
  6. Drink Up, Water that is: Your body actually has to burn calories raising the temperature of cold water, so opt for ice water instead of sugary sodas or juices. Plus, water can help curb your hunger.
  7. Put your fork down between bites: Enjoy the conversation and company, take time to chew your food, and savor every bite. Your food will last longer and your brain can tell your body when you’ve had enough.
  8. Converse More, Stuff Less: People who engage in conversation at the table tend to eat less than those who are focused on stuffing their mouths. Catch up with relatives, spark conversation, enjoy your time with the people you love and care for most.
  9. Drink your alcohol with your meal, not before: Having a glass of wine or a beer is fine—but doing so before you sit down to eat can lower your inhibitions and lead to poor choices or overeating. To combat this, wait until you sit down to eat to pour yourself that glass of wine, make sure you have one that pairs well with your turkey. Watch out for the calories in those mixed drinks and hot, sugary drinks. Opt for wine with your meal instead.
  10. Choose only what you love: How many times do you dish yourself up something you are not particularly fond of just because it’s there? Love mashed potatoes but stuffing is mediocre? Have the potatoes and leave the stuffing. Why add extra calories that you won’t thoroughly enjoy?
  11.  Have a Plan: Approaching the buffet table without an idea of just what you will choose is dangerous. Instead, plan how you will eat ahead of time. Know that you are going to have some candied yams, but forgo the mashed potatoes. This will set you up for success when you are presented with an large array of items.

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