Beat the Holiday Bloat
Before you partake in the merriment of the season, fill your stocking with these simple solutions to stay healthy and happy for the holidays.
Tis the season for merry feasts, foodladen festivities and…forgetting your fitness and diet plans. But, out smarting these yuletide temptations is easy if you take a proactive approachstarting now. From easy exercise strategies to keeping calories under control, ALIVE enlisted the help of area experts for their top tips to beating the holiday bulge.
Sip smart. Our brains often confuse thirst for hunger, says Tim Detmer, Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Finish It Fitness, so make sure you drink plenty of water before a holiday feast. Plus, water aids digestion; stay hydrated by drinking before, during and after your meal.
Survey the scene. Jennifer McDaniel, LD, MS, RD, CSSD and nutrition consultant, recommends scoping out the food options before filling your plate. Determine which foods you like best and choose only those foodswithin reason. Many times, people fill up on bread or rolls at the start of a meal, only to find the dessert is what they really wanted.
Pass the protein. Eating a small proteinpacked snack, like unsalted almonds, before a big meal can help you eat less. Eating protein helps stabilize blood sugar and ward off cravings. The proteininduced “full” feeling will come in handy when mom brings out the pumpkin pie and cake for dessert.
Chill out. You can experience many emotions during the holidaysfrom family stress to monetary expenses and a busy scheduleso its important to find food-free outlets to cope. Keeping your emotions in check can cure the need to indulge, advises Julie Walther-Scheibel, a fitness instructor and mental health therapist.
Dont ditch exercise. Keeping a regular workout schedule has a huge impact on your mind and body, as well as your metabolism. Use your gym time wisely by trying a new routine or workout, so you dont dread heading to the gym. Try an interval cardio workout, with short blasts of intense speed and recovery, to give yourself a burst of energy.
Avoid the “all or nothing” pitfall. Most of us give up on our holiday diet once we indulge just a little. Its easy to think, “Ive already had two pieces of pie, I might as well eat what I want the rest of the weekend.” Avoid this “all or nothing” philosophy. Even if you overeat one night, the whole weekend doesnt have to be a diet bust. You can still wake up the next morning, take a walk, eat a healthy breakfast, and get right back on track.
Enlist a partner in crime. Accountability is huge when it comes to staying on your diet. Lean on friends, co-workers or family members and let them know your healthy eating plan. That way, if they see you heading for the dessert table in a moment of weakness, they can stage an intervention.
Pick your place wisely. Research shows that when we eat socially, we mimic the speed that our tablemates eat. So, be strategic and sit next to your slow-eating friends. Also, the larger the group we eat with, the more we will eat. Its not a reason to fly solo, but it is a reminder to be mindful of the temptation.
Eat your calories. All too often, we start off with wine, eggnog or other cocktails at holiday parties and end up consuming anywhere from 300 to 600 calories before we even sit down to eat. These yuletide spirits might taste great, but they fail to fill us up or provide any real nutrition. Our experts recommend choosing diet and sugar-free drinks when possible. If alcohol is a must, do so in moderation, and opt for lower calorie choices such as red wine or light beer, versus eggnog or margaritas.
Be Merry! The mind can do amazing things, so dont tell yourself youre going to fail before you even step into your first holiday party. Commit to putting a positive foot forward and enjoy the season.