Granted, staying healthy during the holidays is a struggle for the majority of us. Even those who have the utmost willpower find it hard not to overindulge on the smorgasbord of cheese, bread, potatoes and stuffing. Not to mention, the wide array of traditional Christmas baking we wait for all year long. Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of the holiday season. This means enjoying without overindulging and adapting to remain in control when things don’t go as planned. Mostly, it means making the most of the holiday season and focusing on time spent with the ones we love!
Don’t Show Up Starving: Eat a balanced snack (high in protein and fiber) before leaving in order to avoid being over hungry and losing control when you are presented with food. This will also balance your blood sugar and prevent dangerous cravings.
Don’t Go Empty Handed: Bring the veggie tray! If you are unsure about what will be served at the event, bring a healthy snack for everyone to enjoy! Not only does this show respect to your hosts, it also guarantees that you have a healthy snack to fill up on if your options are limited.
Drink Water: Drink lots of water and tea throughout the event. This will keep your appetite in control as well as prevent you from drinking beverages filled with empty calories. If sweetening your beverages, try natural stevia (no calories or glycemic index) instead of artificial sweeteners as these have actually been linked to weight gain!
Fill Your Plate with Good Stuff: Make the majority of your plate veggies/salad! Focus on high protein foods such as meat and eggs to keep you full (enjoy nuts and cheese in moderation). Also, try to take it easy on dips, sauces and dressings.
Think First: Don’t let the smell of holiday foods overtake your common sense. A few seconds of rational thought about what you are reaching for and how much is enough to save you from discomfort and regret. When looking at food selection, try to pause and contemplate how you will feel after eating certain items. Once you have thought about the potential outcomes, make your choices. Start with small portions. It is easier to physically get up and go for more than mentally struggle with leaving food on your plate, even though you are stuffed.
Eat Slow: Eat your meal slowly, enjoying every bite. This not only improves digestion, it also gives you a more satisfying eating experience, preventing you from piling food into your mouth without thinking and then wanting more.
Evaluate If You Really Need Seconds: Once you are finished eating, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize whether or not it is full, so wait before considering going for seconds. A good trick is to ask yourself: “Am I willing to eat veggies right now?” If the answer is yes, you are probably actually hungry, so go ahead and choose something nutritious (like veggies!)
Location, Location, Location: Where you set yourself up at a party is crucial to your caloric intake. Have your chair as far away from the snack table as possible to avoid the temptation of mindlessly eating during a conversation.
Don’t Deprive Yourself Completely: Moderation is key. Try a very small helping of those “forbidden foods” instead of a large one. This is a good rule for dessert as sugar is highly addictive. Think about it this way…Whether you eat a little or a lot, you will still crave more of it when you are done. So why not get the satisfaction of having a small portion to taste it and then fill up on something else? Either way, when it is gone, it’s gone.
Choose Indulgences Carefully: Guaranteed, there will be an abundance of food offered (tis the season!), with multiple desserts, carbohydrate options (perogies, potatoes, bread and stuffing) as well as snacks galore (chocolate, cheese, crackers, nuts, chips, candy…). Instead of trying them all, choose a few of your favorites! Set guidelines for yourself ahead of time in terms of how much you will allow yourself to enjoy. It really will taste so much better if you just have one!
Decline…Politely of Course: Remember, it is ok to say no when someone offers you something to eat or wants to make your plate for you. You have every right to respectfully decline and make your own choices. You are in control of your health and your body.
Distract Yourself with Something Physical: Go for a walk, do some dancing or play with the kids! Not only is exercise beneficial for you, the more involved you are in something, the less your brain will focus on the tempting goodies that are surrounding you. It has also been shown to have an appetite suppressing effect and increases serotonin levels, helping to decrease cravings.
Reason for the Season: Don’t think of food as the sole focus of the event. Be grateful for the many blessings of the season and emphasize socializing with good friends and family. Plus, don’t forget to laugh, it’s good for you AND it burns calories!
Lifestyle Tips: Sleep well and manage stress! Lack of sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite. This leads to excess hunger and cravings. A stressful lifestyle raises cortisol levels which leads to fat retention.
Supplemental Ingredients to Get You through the Holidays: Please note that these suggestions are not a complete weight loss/maintenance solution. Herbal supplements should be considered as a temporary addition to a holistic health regime which incorporates proper nutrition, exercise and stress management.
Decrease Cravings: 5-HTP, Garcinia Cambogia & L-Glutamine
Balance Blood Sugar: Chromium, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Gymnema, Chirositol, Berberine, Salacia
Boost Metabolism: Apple Cider Vinegar & Green Tea
Improve Metabolism of Fat & Carbohydrates: B-Vitamins, Green Coffee Bean, White Kidney Bean
Prevent Gas, Bloating, Indigestion: Digestive Enzymes (with or without Betaine HCL), Bitter Herbs
Keep You Feeling Full: Protein & Fibre Powder/Capsules
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.