The holidays are upon us and we may feel like it’s time to eat, drink and be merry. Suddenly we realize January is here and we feel sluggish, tired and overweight to start off the new year. There are ways to celebrate with moderation and still enjoy the season’s festivities. All it takes is some common sense and a bit of self-control. Here are some tips to combat the biggest culprits of holiday weight gain.
Choose your beverages wisely. Eggnog, soda, fruit drinks and juices can be very calorie-heavy. Not only do they cause surges of glucose, which puts the body into fat-storage mode, they also leave the stomach empty and craving more calories. Make sure to drink plenty of water and choose wine, light beer or use a non-caloric mixer with holiday “spirits.”
Eat three real meals a day. A real meal includes protein, starch and vegetables and/or fruit. Protein foods, such as fish, poultry, lean meats and hummus, help to stabilize blood sugar, which means better appetite control. Vegetables are especially low in calories while high in nutrition and fiber, which also helps to control appetite. Balanced meals also help to reduce vulnerability to sweets and high-calorie snack foods.
Control your portions. Scope out the buffet line before making your choices. Use smaller plates and select only a few items instead of trying some of everything. Keep in mind that we are typically wired to eat everything that is in front of us. With the exception of fruits and vegetables, limit portion sizes to about the size of a fist at each meal. Always bring mindfulness to the table with you!
Drink alcohol in moderation. Drinking alcohol can loosen inhibitions and make you carefree about your diet. Also, hangovers can increase morning hunger. Always make sure you have food in your stomach before you drink and try to have one full glass of water or seltzer between each beverage. This should help reduce the amount of alcohol you consume, and assist the body in recovering.
It’s OK to stay home. Holiday parties are a great time to socialize and celebrate the season with family, friends and coworkers, but don’t feel obligated to accept every invitation. Plan some down-time, including allowing enough time for sleep. You'll enjoy yourself more (as will those around you), and you'll be less likely to overeat if you are rested.
Start the new year right. With a little common sense, good judgment and self-control, you can enjoy the holiday season without taking a toll on your body.
About the Author
Jeannie Sykes, PhD, RD, LDN