Avoid the Holiday Weight Gain with Some Nutrition Planning!
December is here and with it starts the round of parties and holiday events with big feasts, lots of baking and empty high-calorie alcoholic beverages. In fact, December seems to be just one event after another where there are more calories consumed than can ever be spent.
According to the National Institutes of Health, most North Americans do not lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The weight gain adds after several years, making holiday weight gain a significant factor in adult obesity.
During this season I advise my clients to eat and drink in moderation. The problem comes with the definition of moderation and the understanding of how many calories are going in with each little indulgence. There is no problem with having one treat, but most people end up having a succession of them. There is a difference with one treat and a full day of treats or one treat and a calorie-laden pitcher of a “special holiday punch”.
Most people see holiday reduction plans as unattainable, unrealistic and more importantly depriving themselves of “holiday cheer”. Therefore asking clients to stop over consuming often makes me the bad guy and in my experience makes them less likely to come in and continue to work out with which only exacerbates the problem. Over the years I have found that suggesting a plan of reduction or allowing some indulgence is a much better strategy. Reduction enables clients to feel still successful while letting them still have fun while following a modified plan.
Holiday Nutrition Planning
The first rule of thumb is to follow the 80/20 rule of healthy eating when it comes to the holidays. The 80/20 rule allows you to indulge 20% of the time while maintaining an unprocessed, high fiber, whole food nutrition plan the remaining 80%. The 20% would include sweets, junk food and alcoholic beverages. In other words, if you want to have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner then you need to pair it with a healthy alternative meal such as fish or lean meat, vegetables and salad while avoiding high-calorie sides such as mashed potatoes. Delicious dessert on the menu? Replace a glass of wine with half a portion of the dessert.
Don’t beat yourself up if you overindulge on a meal, add in some extra exercise that would add up to the extra calories you ingest.
Portion Size and Control
Go ahead and enjoy yourself … within reason. There is a big difference between eating a whole plate of treats and having one 2 x 2 brownie (243 kcal, Fat 10.1g, Carbohydrates 39g for 1 or if you times that by 6 and you have a whole day’s calorie intake).
Traditional turkey dinners leave you feeling like you are going to roll away. Have you ever thought about how many calories you are consuming?
- 250 gm Mashed Potatoes – 214 kcal
- 6 oz. Roast Turkey – 230 kcal
- 250 gm Brussels sprouts with butter – 70 kcal
- 125 gm Sweet Potato Casserole – 260 kcal
- 1 serving Green Beans with Onion and Bacon – 110 Kcal
- 1 Bun with 7.5 gm of butter – 170 kcal
- 100gm Stuffing – 386 kcal
- 100gm Gravy – 79 kcal
That mean this one meal equals 1519 kcal without salad, wine or dessert. That would be equal to a whole day’s calories on an average day. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a bit of each, but perhaps you need to reduce the amount to half then you have the wiggle room for a glass of wine and a dessert taster.
Slow Down and Enjoy Each Bite
Slowing down and chewing more allows your stomach time to catch up with your mouth. Everyone knows that when you eat too quickly, you consume more calories and end up feeling overfull or nauseated. Eating slowly gives your stomach time to send the message to your brain that you are full and don’t need any more food.
Hit the Gym Before You Hit the Party
Burn off some of those holiday nerves and urges before you go to the party. We all know that with the holidays comes stress and with stress the urge to overeat. Before you hit the party, hit the gym to blast out some weights and do some HIIT training on the cardio equipment. It will do double duty to kill off calories and stress!
Most people have a little lift in mood and self-esteem when they exercise so over-eating will become less appealing. It will allow you to enjoy the company around you including your own.
Take Some Healthy Alternatives with You
When you are invited to holiday parties, offer to bring some healthy snacks with you. Put together a raw vegetable platter and bring some homemade kale chips. Healthy alternatives will give you and everyone else a choice over high fat and high-calorie treats. You could also offer to bring a fruit platter for after dinner which will give you something else to pick at other than cookies and candies.
Stretch Your Legs After Dinner
After a big meal instead of sinking into the turkey coma on the couch, get up and take a walk! Encourage your friends to go with you! Wandering around singing some Christmas carols is a fun way to interact with your friends and family!
Just remember in the end, that the holidays are meant to be enjoyed and spent with your loved ones. In the event, you over-indulge don’t let it ruin your day. Reduce the amount you eat the next day and pump up the amount of time you spend in the gym for a few days. Do your best to come out of the end of the holiday season with your clothes fitting the same way as they did when you went in!