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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Worried about gaining weight over the holidays? Here are some simple tips for healthy holiday eating :

#Get “Off” the Diets

How many of you said the day after Thanksgiving that you had to go back on your “diet.” If you think of yourself as being “on” or “off” a diet, chances are you are going to get in trouble. Most of the time going off a diet can mean “going off the deep end.” A taste of Aunt Matilda’s famous holiday pie doesn’t mean you have “sinned” and definitely doesn’t mean ”What the heck, I might as well eat the whole pie.” Don’t set yourself up for disaster.

#It’s All About Portion Control

Many people lose weight and keep it off with the simple strategy of portion control. Eat reasonably small portions, limit the foods you know you should limit, and don’t stuff yourself. We all know eliminating or even limiting certain foods is extremely hard during a holiday. Don’t listen to those that say “The holidays only come once a year so you might as well eat.”

#Behave

Ben and Jerry may be my best friends at times and also my “trigger” food. Most of us know what our “trigger” foods are and the effects certain foods have on our mood, appetite and energy. If you can’t abstain from problem foods all of the time during the holidays, abstain from them most of the time. The next best thing to behaving perfectly is behaving well.

#Never Arrive Hungry

The foods you need to avoid are harder to resist when you are starving and your blood sugar is low. An ounce of prevention goes a long way. A glass of low sodium tomato juice, some whole-grain crackers, a slice or two of cheese will keep your appetite at bay. Try any of these snacks an hour or so before a holiday celebration and watch your willpower soar while your waistline stays in place.

#Don’t Skip Meals

A common strategy during the holidays is to skip breakfast and/or lunch because you know a big meal is coming and you want to “save up” the calories. This strategy backfires because you come to the meal starving and wind up eating more than you ever intended.

#Eat Slowly

Hormones signal the brain when you are full. It takes about 20 minutes from start time before you feel it. Slow eating not only aids digestion but also gives your brain a chance to know what your stomach is doing. You can make the meal last by talking, putting down your fork between bites, or just plain waiting, you are less likely to eat on “automatic pilot” and more likely to realize you are full.

#Use Smaller Plates

A full salad plate looks like a lot of food and psychologically “feels” the same way. You can always go back for seconds or even thirds. If you do this simple act it will slow down the eating process which gives you more time to feel full.

#Finish the Meal Within an Hour

The body produces a second insulin hit if it senses a lot of food coming in continuously. You can avoid that second hit by finishing you meal within an hour of starting. If you see something you like that you forgot to eat within the hour you can save it for tomorrow.

#Divide Your Plate

Think protein, vegetables and the carbohydrates you probably crave. Imagine that your plate is divided into thirds, one section for each food group. The carb section has to include not only the carbs that are staples of holiday dinners, but the desserts too. If you are going to eat dessert, adjust your portion of the other carbs accordingly.

#Stay Hydrated

Many times when we crave food, it is not really hunger that is driving the urge, it’s mild dehydration. Solution: drink lots of water. A slice of orange, lemon or lime will flavor the water and cut your cravings.

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