For better or for worse, the holidays are upon us. Time to get a bunch of stuff given to you that you don’t want or need, and time to give a bunch of stuff to other people for which they have no want or need. But that’s what the holidays are all about, right? Ok, it’s about other stuff too. Like family tension and drama. And getting in touch with your love/hate relationship with holiday music. And of course, eating and drinking too much and hopefully finding “being merry” on the other side of those behaviors. Because of this, weight gain is all too common over the holidays, but here a few tips to try and minimize that. Even staying the same weight would be considered a win over the holidays.
- Skip Dessert. Definitely way easier said than done, no doubt. But consider that dessert, high in saturated fat and sugar and low in everything else, is probably the most damaging to your waistline of all the eating you’ll be doing. In many ways, the holidays are all about dessert, so skipping or cutting back will be no easy feat. But know this, and perhaps make a compromise with yourself and green light yourself on everything but dessert. Eat that 2nd and even 3rd helping of your Christmas ham. Go nuts on hors devours, soup, salad, and bread. The goal is to try and fill yourself up to the point where the idea of dessert makes you feel almost literally ill.
- Minimize Alcohol Use. I know, what fun am I, right? Don’t eat dessert and don’t drink any booze. Well, drink all you want but know that alcohol over the holidays is a silent killer. Now granted, the holidays and sobriety don’t really mix too well, so this is definitely an uphill battle. Just be conscious of it and know that alcohol goes right to your hips and/or stomach faster than food. Maybe offer to be a designated driver once or twice, and give your friends and family the gift of a safe ride home and yourself the gift of having saved yourself hundreds of empty calories and a hangover in the morning.
- Have Dietary Forethought. Be realistic with yourself and your behavior and try and plan just a little bit ahead. If your holiday work party is tonight, don’t kid yourself and pretend you won’t be binging on things like champagne, cheese, chicken, chocolate, and conversations you would never dream of having sober at the office. If you’re going nuts that night, try and simply eat light and healthy before that. Small breakfast, light lunch, and then don’t even worry about what you eat and drink at the party. It’s only a few hours and one meal, you can’t do that much damage. Especially if you’ve kept it light the rest of the day.
- Get Plenty of Sleep. This will help you avoid weight gain for many reasons. One is that well-rested people are able to regulate their appetite better and make better food-related decisions. Ample sleep will also reduce stress. Stress is a killer for many reasons, as it leads many people to consume and over-consume the exact types of foods they should be avoiding. And under stress, the body is even more likely to add fat in the midsection right around the belly and organs.
- Use Caffeine. Caffeine and the holidays is a match made in heaven for many reasons. Even getting out of bed on a cold morning to go buy people the aforementioned things they don’t need is easier when a nice caffeine buzz awaits. Beyond that, caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant and encourages lipolysis, the body’s burning of fat for fuel. Additionally, the beverages caffeine is inherent to like coffee and tea contain many natural antioxidants that confer many positive health benefits and help to balance out the many other foods you’ll no doubt be eating over the holidays that confer no health benefit of any kind.
So those are at least a few tips to try and avoid the almost obligatory 5-10 lb weight gain (or more) that occurs every holiday season. It is definitely a season fraught with many kinds of temptation, and learning how to manage and selectively avoid some or most of these temptations will allow you to have a healthier, more fun and fulfilling, and more guilt-free holiday season. Or you could just be the typical American, and give yourself carte blanche and go nuts over the holidays, then try and get your act together come January. And according to the Mayans and many others, there won’t even be a January, so maybe disregard everything I said and live in opulence and decadence over the next couple weeks. Either way, happy holidays.
Article Courtesy: Andrew Steingrube