Image: Stephanie Heymann
Written by Kim Miller and Shannon Dougherty of Fit Mom Diet
Every year millions of people set New Year’s resolution to get fit and lose weight. This could be in part because the holiday celebrations get the best of people. Everywhere you look there are delicious food temptations. Desserts are plentiful, office holiday parties host a smorgasbord of delicious options, chocolate is everywhere and people often give gifts of food and candy.
In addition, a big part of celebrating the holidays revolves around food. So are you doomed? No, you’re not!
The following strategies will help you keep you prevent holiday weight gain and keep your health in check over the holiday season. You may still set a health related resolution, but you will feel good going into it by staying on track until the end of the year.
4 Easy Ways To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
1. Drink Plenty of Water
This might seem like an odd suggestion for avoiding holiday weight gain but the reality is we are much more likely to indulge and make unhealthier food choices when we are dehydrated. Dr. David Carfagno, Medical Director for both Ironman Arizona and the PF Chang’s Rock and Roll Arizona states that “Hydration is important because our body survives with water. Our cells, organs and tissues, and blood need water to function and survive. When we don’t have enough water we are ‘de-hydrated’.
When we are de-hydrated, our blood volume falls and our heart compensates by beating faster. The working muscles receive less blood flow and less oxygen, so they use more glycogen (stored glucose in our muscles and liver) and produce lactic acid. This eventually leads to why we feel fatigued.”
When fatigue and other dehydration symptoms set in it numbs our ability to regulate our food choices. Staying hydrated also aids with metabolism, helping us to better digest that which we do consume.
2. Never Show Up Hungry
Attend all the parties you want but make a point to always eat prior. Feeling satisfied when you arrive helps ensure you don’t over indulge. You’ll be more likely to be selective about what you eat while at an event or festivity.
The best meal to eat pre-party is one that contains complex carbohydrates, healthy fat and protein. Try grilled chicken, quinoa and a green salad with olive oil for dressing, Greek yogurt with nuts and berries or an egg white omelet with veggies, sliced avocado and whole wheat toast.
3. Eat in Moderation
Rather than avoiding everything and watching your cravings get stronger and stronger, allow yourself to have a few treats and indulgences, just be mindful or quantity and portion size. A little goes a long way, particularly when it comes to sugary treats.
Have a small dessert and allow time for it to digest. People often eat more than they really need because it takes a bit of time for your mind to register you are satisfied or full.
A good strategy to use? Eat a small meal and wait at least 30 minutes before you opt for more. This tip is excellent to use on Thanksgiving because some of the food such as turkey and veggies are definitely healthy, but we tend to overeat them making us feel lethargic and over full.
4. Limit Alcohol
Not only do the calories in alcohol add up, when we drink more than we need we tend to make poor food choices. Make a decision before you arrive about how much you plan to drink and stick to it.
A glass of red wine makes a good choice for those that opt to drink because wine in moderate amounts can actually offer some health benefits. Red wine in particular contains resveratrol which has been linked to offering some heart health benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Calorically wine contains about 100 calories for a four ounce glass. Assuming it’s not a dessert wine, the natural chemical balance of grapes allows them to ferment without adding sugar.
Holidays can be enjoyable and manageable if you implement just a handful of strategies to help you. Don’t forget to also get out and move on a daily basis. Staying active will go a long way toward helping you stay on track and preventing holiday weight gain.