For most active people there is no harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it's just a pound. But according to researchers, a lot of people never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays.
The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.
There is no need to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single pound. Just simply have an eye on how much you eat from the goodies served to you, and in between family meals and holiday parties try to eat light.
Here are a few tips on how to limit calories without missing out on all the holiday delicacies.
Skipping breakfast or lunch in order to "save your appetite for a dinner or party is never a good weight-maintenance tactic. You will just eat more and anything coming your way as soon you can eat.
Planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. Don't arrive at a party hungry. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand, like a handful of nuts with a carrot, apples or a banana. Start with drinking some water to get some volume into your stomach before filling your plate.
There is no need to eat all you can in the first 30 minutes of arriving at a party or buffet dinner. Try to have smaller plates more often over a longer period of time. Have some water in between and let the food settle before going for the next plate. Fifteen minute breaks between each plate is a good start.
Many canapés slip down almost unnoticed, yet they pack more than a few calories and can be high in saturated fat and salt. One simple way to keep a check on their impact is to remember that between eight and 10 mini bites are equivalent to a main meal (300-500 cal), while four to six can equal a starter. (150-250 cal).
Go for healthy fats
Healthy fats help to slow down the blood sugar intake from food and alcohol, and will also help you to eat less during the evening. Get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from avocadoes, nuts, and olives. Combining fat with fiber, like dipping veggies in guacamole, has been shown to make us feel full and therefore eat less.
Outsmart the buffet
When dinner is served buffet-style, pick the smallest plate available and don't overfill it. Always start with the salad buffet to fill up on fiber, and eat some lean meat or fish before aiming for the potato mash, the lasagna or gratin. Watch out for extra sauces and dips.
Alcoholic beverages have up to 300 cal per serving depending if you have a beer or a sweet cocktail. But it is not just the calories per drink that add up - while drinking alcohol we usually eat more too. Choose to drink a glass of still water in between drinks. This will help to dilute the sugar intake, limit dehydration, and help to prevent headaches the next day. (Sparkling water speeds up the sugar intake into your blood stream).
Be choosy about sweets
When it comes to dessert, be selective. Limit your indulgences to small portions. Or, if you can select a couple of things you want to try but only eat a bite or two.Bring your own treats If you are invited to a party and asked to bring something along, your best option is to take something that balances out all the other fat, salt and sugar rich dishes.
I normally choose to take a salad, such as kale with grapes and nuts, or a quinoa tabbouleh. Prepare a light dessert with fruits, like Mixed berry Tiramisu with Greek yogurt, or a light Japanese cheesecake with mango.
Our relatives and friends may encourage us to overeat, by shoving seconds onto a cleaned plate. It is ok to respectfully decline. "I'm full" or "I'm taking a break" should be enough for friends and family members to respect your wishes. If they don't however, just leave the food on the plate.
If you end up with loads of leftovers on your kitchen counter, or you are urged to take some food home after a party, pack up the extras and store them in the freezer for a later date. Don't leave it all in the fridge to eat over the next couple of days. Plan ahead and make sure you have portion-sized plastic containers on hand. Out of sight is out of mind.
Walk it off
Walk from store to store or from party location to party location as often as you can during the holidays. Just a small amount of added daily movement can make a difference on your calorie balance sheet.
For more effective calorie balancing, go for functional exercise. This form of exercise has been shown to increase strength and stamina, while working multiple muscle groups at the same time, during a shorter period of time. Squeeze in a mid-Christmas workout to increase your metabolism.
I wish everyone a happy holiday season and a healthy and successful New Year.
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