Here we go again! The Holiday season is about to start. In November and December we’re faced with every culinary temptation imaginable, which makes it difficult to maintain peak fitness.
But what if I tell you that it is possible to enjoy all the festivities without the extra pounds? Here are 10 strategies that will help you maintain your weight and health stable during the holiday season:
- Eat 3 to six smaller meals rather than “saving” yourself for that special holiday meal: smaller, more frequent meals enhance metabolic activity (meaning you burn more calories during the day), and you will also be less likely to binge on those holiday treats.
- Plan a workout before a holiday party or big meal: Why not use all those scrumptious holiday foods as recovery from a hard run or bicycle ride? In the one or two hours after intense exercise, our bodies are more sensitive to the hormone insulin, which helps transport sugars to our depleted muscles. All those precious carbohydrates found in starchy holiday dishes like mashed potatoes, or sugars found in cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie are excellent for glycogen replenishment.
- SLOW DOWN! If you’re competitive by nature, you may be inclined to “hurry” your meals. Just so you know, it takes at least 20 minutes for our brains to signal that we’re actually full, which means a slow eater will consume less calories before feeling full than someone who races through their meal.
- Remember the law of diminishing returns: Doesn’t the first bite always taste the best? When looking at brain chemicals signaling “pleasure,” scientists have found that we receive less pleasure the more we eat of a food. So rather than feeling like you must eat a full serving of every dessert at a holiday meal, take a bite or two and receive 90 percent of the pleasure at 10 percent of the calories.
- Offer to bring a healthy dish to holiday parties: If you’re concerned about the unhealthy array of foods that are bound to be served at an upcoming function, call the host ahead of time to see if you can bring a healthy dish. Here is the recipe for my gluten free turkey gravy, and here is the one for my healthyRussiansalad. Chances are, the host will be happy to have some help with the overwhelming task of pleasing a hungry crowd!
- Try recipe modification:Many people fret about a cooking disaster when preparing a large meal during the holidays and therefore don’t want to experiment with new ingredients. But often times these new ingredients enhance both the nutritional valueand the flavor of the dish. Click here for some healthy Thanksgiving recipes to help enhance the nutritional value of your holiday menu.
- Beware of liquid calories, especially alcohol:Alcohol actually contains almost as many calories per gram as fat (seven calories vs. nine calories per gram) and 1 glass of Soda as much sugar as you need in a day. Combine the alcohol with sodas or creamy / sweet mixtures, and you get even more calories. Alcohol also tends to lower our inhibitions, which means you’ll be less careful about what and how much you indulge at the party. So instead of reaching for the bubbly, rotate a non-caloric drink like spritzer into the mix.
- Don‘t “hang out” at the appetizer table when socializing at a party: It’s hard to believe how much those small handfuls of munchies add up at a party, but they add quickly! Filled one small plate of food and then call it quits. Make a conscious effort to position yourself away from the hors d’oeuvres at a holiday function.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. All the alcohol, fatty, processed and sugary foods, paired with almost no water consumption during the holidays are some of the main reasons why you feel “hung over” from the binge. Drinking a minimum of eight glasses of clean, NOT ICED water every day is one of the best things you can do to detox and purify your body in a natural way. We are made by water, and every cell and organ in your body needs adequate water to function properly.
- The morning after: When you first wake up in the am, drink a warm glass of water with a cap of apple cider vinegar and half of a small lemon squeezed in. This will help your body flush away the toxins and boost your metabolism. Also, take a high-quality vitamin C and B supplement, both of which are depleted by alcohol consumption and stress. Vitamin C also helps your body produce glutathione, a liver compound that flushes away toxins.
This year, let’s try to do things differently and let’s make an effort to avoid those extra 10-15lbs on the scale.