Yes - It's that time of year when high fat sugary foods seem to be everywhere -- frosted cookies and sugary breads at the office, eggnog and mixed drinks at your neighbor's party, bags of traditional chocolate Gelt for Hanukkah, and peppermint sticks jammed into your stocking. All these extras add up, and if you're like many Americans, you'll put on a pound a week through the New Year. So what's the harm in a little holiday weight gain? Most of us never lose those unwanted pounds we gain during the winter holidays. And this can lead to bigger health problems down the road.
But you don't have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single pound, and maybe even losing weight. By increasing your nutritional awareness and planning ahead, you can balance your temptations. Here are some great health and nutrition tips that you can use this holiday season to help you avoid overindulging:
1. Never go to a party hungry. All the will-power you can muster is no match for a rumbling tummy in the presence of a buffet with lots of unhealthy and tempting options. So, eat before you go to a party. Have something well-balanced, with carbohydrates, protein and a small amount of healthy fats. Good examples are an apple with natural peanut butter or greek yogurt with almonds. Also, always offer to bring something; that way, you know there will be one healthy option that you can eat. A big salad or an elegant dessert tray of dark chocolate, berries and lightly salted almonds will be welcome additions among the fat-laden cheesecakes and sticky buns.
2. Position yourself away from temptation. Does it seem that the spread pulls you in like a magnet the moment you enter the party? Resist the force -- don't stand or sit near the buffet, as you may be tempted to mindlessly eat. After all, a party is for seeing and mingling with old and new people, namely your family, friends, or coworkers. When you are sure you are hungry, grab a plate (the smallest one if there is a choice), fill it with the healthiest items from the table, and find a comfortable place to sit and savor your meal.
3. Limit alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol contributes to useless calories and fat gain. Plus, consuming alcohol topples our resistance to and increases our desire for salty or sweet satiation. If you do choose to partake of some holiday cheer, stick to red wine (which does have beneficial antioxidant properties), but limit yourself to one or two drinks (5 ounces), and alternate with a glass of water. Never drink on an empty stomach.
4. Drink plenty of water. When we're dehydrated and thirsty, this leads to overeating. Water makes us have a sense of fullness and many other health benefits. Aim to have ten 8 oz glasses of ice water to help boost your metabolism throughout your day and drink a couple of huge glasses before going to a party. Or, if you'd rather have something to warm you up, try green tea or even chicken or vegetable broth. Bring a bottle of water with you everywhere!
5. Control the all or nothing mindset. The idea thatlosing weight is something you do "right" just temporarily and then the work is done simply sets you up for failure. The fact is, most people who successfully lose weight -- and more importantly, keep that weight off-- make healthy, permanent lifestyle changes such asgetting regular exercise, consciously practicing portion control, and finding ways to prevent emotional eating - especially during the holidays. In fact, the holidays are the BEST time to START a fitness and nutrition program and to seek out extra support that you might need to set goals and stay active. You will be much less likely to blow off workouts if a friend or trainer is holding you accountable and you have a well structured activity and nutrition plan to keep you going.
Most important, be good to yourself this holiday season - relax, enjoy, and treat yourself to something that makes you happy!
In Good Health,
Your Fitness Together Team