Bring on the parties, the eggnog and the holiday pies! Yes, it’s all fun and games until we wreck our waistline, and suffer through days of bloating, heartburn and irritability.
It’s a fact: the average person will gain six to 10 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day. Moreover, researchers have found that people tend to hang on to the weight they gain around the holidays.
With so much temptation surrounding you, how can you enjoy yourself and ensure that you’re not a statistic?
Winning the weight management game — especially around the holidays — can sometimes feel like a losing battle. But the good news is, the power to preserve your physique is entirely in your hands. Here are five doable tips for staying in control in the face of temptation and warding off weight gain:
A healthy gut is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, as well as losing weight. Eating fermented, probiotic-rich foods are one of the best ways to give your gut what it needs to do its job. Fermented foods are rich in live bacteria that replenish the microbiome, helping it maintain the right proportion of friendly bacteria for weight loss and optimal health. Gut-friendly options like Greek yogurt, kefir, and pickled or fermented foods (pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi) improve insulin sensitivity, helping to reduce your risk of many conditions including diabetes. Don’t like the taste of pickled vegetables? Turmeric, a superherb containing a powerful compound called curcumin, also has the ability to support healthy gut bacteria. Find it in the spice aisle or as a supplement at your drugstore.
Aim to drink at least two liters of water a day. On days that you have an intense workout, increase that to three or more liters per day. Dehydration can compromise your weight by making you ‘think’ you’re hungry (when you’re actually thirsty) and zap your energy level, making you too tired to exercise.
When it comes to foods that wreak havoc on your waistline, you know the usual suspects to avoid: salt, sugar and alcohol. ‘Drinking your calories’ is always a bad idea, since most of them come from the sugar in the alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the less in control you will be with your food choices. In addition, alcohol interferes with getting quality sleep. Poor sleep, in turn, messes with the hormones that control your appetite, leading you to binge the day after.
If you’re hitting the holiday party circuit, remember to limit yourself. For every glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, drink a full glass of water.
Too much fat and refined carbohydrates can contribute to weight gain, as well. Be choosy with the carbs you’re going to have and when. If you want something sweet at the party, pick treats with natural sugars, like fruits, and avoid bread, crackers, chips, and store-bought cookies and pastries. Or, if you really want a slice of homemade apple pie, keep the portion small.
If you’re going to a party, tell yourself ahead of time what you will eat. Preparation is crucial to getting through event season, while preserving your waistline. Ask yourself, what can I eat at the party that tastes great and that will make me feel good about myself afterwards? Maybe it’s lemon-pepper shrimp and a huge plate of veggies and hummus. Maybe it’s a glass of wine, a couple of cheese and turkey slices, and a chocolate-covered strawberry. Set yourself up for success by focusing on all the things you can enjoy, instead of focusing on what’s forbidden.
When you hit the party, scan the whole table first before making a decision. Stick to a small portion of your favorite foods and ignore the rest. Portion control is key when it comes to holiday eating.
For more help with portion control, eat slowly. Chewing your food with intention will heighten your awareness of what you’re eating and whether you really love it (if you don’t love it — don’t eat it!). More chewing action means less work for your stomach and improves your intestines ability to absorb and metabolize the food you eat.
You work hard all year long to look and feel amazing. Don’t let the holiday festivities sabotage your success. Instead of saying no to all of the parties, appetizers and desserts, say yes to having a plan. Make up your mind that you’re going to aim for balance — not overindulgence. The more realistic you are, the more likely you are to stay true to your happy weight.
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