Holiday Survival Guide
By Jesse Kurisko
The holiday season is notorious for ruining diets and gaining weight. The USDA Human Research Center on Aging discovered that approximately 51% of annual weight gain occurs during the 6 week holiday season from late November to early January. Lavish meals lead to over eating and a lot of high calorie dishes and desserts. I am here to help you survive the holidays while enjoying your favorite foods but not gaining weight.
Temptations: Before you go for a helping of food assess your true hunger level. Are you really hungry? or is it the simple fact that it is tempting there in front of you. There is a purpose behind all that you do, including what you eat. This is the same concept used in a workout for example. You would never lift every single weight in the gym just because it is there. Don't eat like that. Don't skip meals. This will send you hormones on a roller coaster ride and can spike hungry levels to the point that when you do eat you will most likely eat more than needed and the satiety signals will be slower to respond. Plan meals and eat the good stuff first. No one ever has become overweight by eating too many vegetables. That being said fill up on colorful veggies you can thank me later. If you seem to lose control once a meal or party has started writing down what you eat may be a useful tool to stay accountable.
Holiday Parties: Planning is key. If going to a party and bringing a dish make it a healthy one. A veggie plater or a low fat/ calorie version of a popular dish will ensure that there is a healthy option for you. Prioritize your plate and watch the portion size. Studies have found that people will eat 80% of whatever is on their plate regardless of portion size. Do yourself a favor by starting small and be satisfied taking sample sizes of various dishes. Take your time while sampling remember that slow satiety response can take up to 30 minutes to take full effect. If you are a drinker just think one drinks worth of beer or wine is about 150 calories, mixed drinks can be as high as 500 a piece! All those calories and not a single nutrient. Is it worth it? thats for you to decide.
Holiday Fitness: DO NOT STOP EXERCISING! After the damage is done you have a short window of time to minimize the effects. The next day following a large meal hit the gym, hit the treadmill, get up and move. High intensity training is best but anything is better than nothing. Basically gets a good sweat going and move as much muscle tissue as possible. This will help speed digestion, put all that nourishment to good use in recovery, and shed some of the water you are retaining.
Follow these tips and stay in control and stay health, but most importantly enjoy the holidays without regret.
Information gathered from FitDay's Jeannie Gedeon, MPH, RD/CDN Nutrition Therapist