Oh the holidays….smells of fresh gingerbread cookies in the oven, getting together with loved ones for a Christmas feast or sipping on a rum and eggnog by the fire. The holidays bring with them so many warm memories and traditions…but this can come at a price in terms of your health. It has been shown that people will put on an average of 10lbs of body fat over the holiday season. The problem is not only the short term weight gain, but that fact that they majority of people will never get all this weight off.
Weight gain – whether it be long or short term is dangerous for your health…your heart as to work harder, your joints are under more stress not to mention the fact that this extra body fat is inflammatory and has been shown to be linked with certain forms of cancer.
The reality is, we all need to indulge in moderation!!! There is no single human being that can eat all of these inflammatory and high fat foods and beverages and be healthy. Even those people that look “skinny” and eat “whatever they want” in terms of high sugar and high fat foods will NOT be healthy.
Therefore…we all need to learn moderation. The goal of the holidays whether you are on a weight loss or weight management program is to come out of the holidays being the exact same weight that we went in. Do not fall into the rut where you dig a hole so deep in terms of your weight that you have to then climb your way out in January. You are more than welcome to indulge…but use these 10 tips to forgo the holiday 10!!
Tip #1 – Exercise is a MUST
Think about it this way, you need to eat 3500 calories to put on 1 pound of fat. While this may sound like a lot…think about this
- Starbucks Gingerbread Latte – 270-330 calories
- Peppermint white chocolate mocha – 540 Calories
- Eggnog Latte – 470 calories
- Stuffing – 100g – 231 calories
- 1 slice Christmas Cake – 249 calories
- 1 glass wine – 90-245 calories
It adds up!! Especially when Christmas seems to last 4-6 weeks with all of the office parties and friend and family get togethers. Not to mention the fact that everyone seems to bring in “treats” for the office.
If you exercise, even 30min per day you are going to burn an average of 250-300 calories. It is one of your biggest tools to keeping this weight off – therefore my suggestion is to do at least 30min of exercise per day. Make exercise fun, and start making some healthy traditions – maybe instead of sitting on the couch in a coma like state after a large meal, you could take the family for a walk through waterloo park and look at the lights…or even around your neighborhood. Or on boxing day morning, your could start a tradition to go tobogganing or for a cross country ski. While you are making good habits for yourself, start to make some for the whole family
Tip #2 – Know your Intention before going to the party
We all do better with a plan. Therefore, when you have so many parties decide on the way there in the car what you are going to have. While you may not completely stick to your plan, you are going to come a lot closer than if you never set some goals in the first place. For example – at my work Christmas party I am going to have 2 glasses of wine, and some dessert but I am going to keep away from the high fat high calorie appetizers at the beginning of the night.
Tip #3 – Bring something you can eat to the party
If you bring a healthy option, you know there will be something there for you to eat. I have included a bunch of healthy salad and dressing recipes that are great. Dazzle your friends and family with a healthy and delicious new recipe. If all else fails and you have no time – go to zehrs and grab a fruit or veggie tray, bring an olive and pickle tray or some mixed nuts
Tip #4 – Don’t go to the party hungry
When we are hungry we make irrational food choices, and to get our blood sugars back up we crave foods that are high in fats, refined carbs or sugars – like the cheese dip with bread, the cookie tray or the bulldozer dip with nachos. One great way is to have a snack 45 minutes before you go to the party. Things like veggies and hummus, fruit and nut butter, a protein shake, a handful of nuts and seeds or a bowl of soup. This will just take the “edge” off so you can make good choices at the party
Tip #5 – Don’t stand beside the food table!!
Get a plate, and fill up on what you would like to eat and go and sit down and enjoy your food. It will help you slow down, and it will also help you to digest your food. One of the worst things we can do for our digestive system is eat on the run, or eat standing up
Tip #6 – Watch the size of your plate
Studies have shown that the bigger your plate the more you eat. If you have an option, choose a smaller plate and if you choose to go back for seconds then you may do so
Tip #7 – Choose your glass wisely
It has been shown that people tend to pour more into short wide glasses than tall slender glasses.
So – if you have a choice – always choose the tall slender glass
Tip #8 – Speaking of Alcohol
This is one of the areas that we can really increase the calories. Not only is alcohol higher in calories, but your body finds it a great source of energy…so uses the calories in alcohol for energy and stores the food that you eat alcohol with to store as fat.
Therefore…to reduce your alcohol consumption try to drink water in between your alcoholic drinks. Therefore, glass of wine – then a glass of water and so on
Tip #9 – Keep your portions balanced
We have talked before about the ratio of protein to carbs to vegetables…this applies to Christmas too!!
- ¼ of your plate full of protein (meat, fish)
- ¼ of your plate with your carbs – yes this includes stuffing and potatoes!! Also pasta, rice, bread, sweet potatoe, squash, yam
- ½ of your plate with veggies
This is going to make a huge difference in terms of your comfort and energy level after dinner. The poor turkey always gets blamed for “turkey tired” but really it is all the carbs, alcohol and sugar that we are eating!! Make this the Christmas that you don’t have to undo your belt and flake out on the couch after dinner!!
Tip #10 – Indulge in Moderation
When you are indulging …take your time, eat the food and really enjoy it. The most important thing is to indulge in moderation. When you do indulge, make it a choice and do not feel guilty. There in absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying all of the flavours that Christmas has to offer.
We wish all of you a very happy and healthy holiday season