For many of you Holiday presents many challenges for maintenance of weight. The dreaded aftermath of myriad of Holiday parties usually results in regret and disbelief as many watch their scales tip in the plus ranges.
Officially, Holiday eating marathon begins with Thanksgiving and officially ends on New Years. It is no wonder that the top 5 New Year’s Resolution are weight loss.
Holidays are a time of reconnecting with families, friends, and acquaintances, and celebrating life together. Wouldn’t it be great if we can all celebrate the holidays without guilt and fear of gaining weight? It is estimated that during the “Holiday Olympics”, an average American adult will gain between 1 to 3 pounds, and for those who are battling weight gain, it is far worse- between 6 to 8 pounds.
What’s worse, it is estimated by the American Obesity Association that the pounds gained during this period leads to additional weight gain and slowed metabolism in the New Year.
We are not here to discuss the physiological and biochemical issues that lead to this phenomenon called Metabolic Syndrome. What we are going to discuss is the Holiday weight loss survival guide.
Whether or not you are part of a medical managed or some form of weight loss program, following the 7 steps outlined in this blog will go a long ways to help avoid unnecessary holiday weight gain or completely falling off the wagon on your chosen weight loss program.
1. START WITH A CONTRACT & JOURNAL
Mentally, prepare yourself by writing out your goals and objectives. It doesn’t have to be anything significant or verbose. Simply write something like:
“I will follow my doctor’s guideline for my weight loss regiment as he or she outlined for the holiday season” or if you are on your own, “I will do my best to follow a plan of action (such as this survival guide) and will not overeat.”
Share this resolve with someone who is your accountability partner.
Proceed to journal on a small note pad (small meaning a hand held small note pad that can fit into the palm of your hands or your iphone/android app) and get in the habit of logging the foods you ate. Nothing fancy, a simple one line entry such as “one snickers bar, two cookies, etc….” Get in the habit of reviewing the simple list of foods you logged before you go to bed and reaffirm that you will continue to be vigilant.
This process serves to reinforce your commitment and helps you focus on your eating patterns.
2. Thanksgiving Dinner or Christmas Dinner is to be followed by 25 to 30 minutes of leisurely walk
In general, unless you are in a very specific weight loss program, it is a good idea to stay physically active. I’m not talking about concerted exercise program. I’m just talking about staying off the couch to avoid a vicious cycle of overeating followed by lengthy period of inactivity.
Walking leisurely with family and friends (or by yourself) relieves stress, exercises the muscles, and helps to circulate and mobilize your joints, effectively raising your body’s core temperature and blood circulation. It aids in digestion, and helps to keep your metabolic thermostat at a reasonable rate.
After a large meal such as Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner, make it a new tradition or goal to walk 25 to 30 minutes after dinner or meal. You’ll be amazed at how this activity will help avoid the tryptophan driven sleepiness and lethargy.
3. Drink 8oz (cup) water every 1 to 2 hours
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Water is the universal solvent, which means nothing good metabolically will occur without water. Water serves to flush out toxins and keep your cells volumized for efficient function. More importantly, drinking water every 1 to 2 hours serves to expand your stomach, provide neutralization of acidity in your system, and helps to speed up metabolic machinery of your body.
Furthermore, if you must drink coffee or alcohol, please follow the rules presented here:
- for every cup (5 to 8oz) of coffee, within 15 minutes of ingestion, drink 2 cups (8oz) water as coffee is severely dehydrating and is a diuretic.
- for every glass of alcohol you consume, ensure that you drink simultaneously some water, sip for sip. Be aware that alcohol is also dehydrating and water serves to dilute out the alcohol content in your system.
4. Alcohol consumption to a minimum
Alcohol is the defacto standard for any “happening” parties. It is ingrained into our psyche that in order to have fun at any parties or social gatherings, it’s cool to be toting a alcoholic beverage while mingling.
Truth is if you keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum or none at all, it will go a long ways in helping you to metabolize fat. You see, liver detoxifies alcohol. But the liver also burns fatty acids for energy and regulates many other digestive functions that are essential. When you consume alcohol, your body identifies alcohol as a poison, and the liver goes to work over time in converting those alcohols to aldehydes.
Alcohol will dehydrate you, slow your metabolism, and make you lethargic. What follows is a vicious cycle of bloating, water gain, carbohydrate cravings, and lack of energy.
If you must drink alcohol, please consider the 2 drinks maximum rule. Have a handy water bottle nearby to continue your hydration, sip for sip. Here are additional considerations:
- For wine, keep it to Sauvignon Blanc (white wine) and Pinot noir (red wine)
- Vodka based drinks are the lowest in calorie and is considered lowest glycemic index drinks you can have.
- Avoid beer if you can.
5. Nibbling mindset
Eat smaller portions that are rich in protein, green vegetables, and please mind those carbohydrate rich foods. You should definitely partake in the deserts or breads if you absolutely cannot avoid them. Most people cannot. But control the portions. Sample or nibble.
There is an excellent chart on the portion size that are appropriate for various food groups that usually get us in trouble. It is by American Obesity Association. Understand that most foods that you consume should fit in the palm of your hands. Understanding portion control goes a long way in terms of avoiding unnecessary weight gain during the holidays.
Therefore, understanding portion control will help to control overeating.
6. Mind those cruciferous vegetables and greens
Cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli and asparagus contains significant amounts of DIM or Diindolylmethane. These are natural estrogen modifiers and fat burners. Consuming 2 cups at lunch and dinner will go a long way in terms of keeping you thermogenic and fat busting.
Additionally, green lettuces and leafy vegetables will help keep the bloating away. I always advise my patients that Spinach and Romaine are two of the best at keeping water retention at bay and serves as an excellent roughage and fiber source.
Instead of a heaping serving of mashed potatoes, how about making a better choice and reaching for these green friends of ours instead?
7. Stop eating while you are still a bit hungry
Our brains are wired a bit weird. Our satiety center or an area in our brain that signals “fullness” is a bit behind the actual stretch receptors present in our stomachs. This is one of the reasons why people overeat and then immediately regret it. Who can resist that extra serving of apple pie?
But you must resist and have self control in terms of over indulging. Instead sample small portions and stop while you feel like you can eat more.
Stop eating before you have these signals:
- Your stomach is tight and protruding and it is hard to breathe. Stop eating while your stomach feels lite and non distended.
- Stop eating when you feel that the portion that you allowed yourself, in this case 6 to 8oz of protein, 1 cup of vegetables, 2 small servings of deserts, and some samples of side dishes, have been met. It is always important to enter the feast with a plan. No plan = sure fire failure.
So here you go! Enjoy the holidays. Eat what you want, unless you are on a strict medical managed plan from your doctor. Just exercise portion control and some common sense and you’ll enter the New Year ready to tackle the world!
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