It's that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner. American Thanksgiving is this week and for me, the Christmas parties start this weekend! So what's the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it's just a couple of pounds? Well, the fact is those pounds can add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in your overall weight.
To avoid those extra calories and help you stay on track with your healthy living strategy this holiday season, let's explore my top five hacks.
1. Indulge In Healthy Foods
When you practice portion control and tweak preparation techniques, you'll avoid extra calories and walk away from holiday meals with energy, not a food coma! Many of your much-loved holiday foods are stuffed with nutrition. Let's take a closer look at two of my favourites: turkey and cranberries.
I've always preferred the taste and texture of dark meat, which is packed with nutrients including zinc, iron and selenium. All are excellent for immune, skin and hair health. A 100-gram (3.5 ounces) serving of dark meat with the skin has 29 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat and 210 calories.
The next indulgent is fresh cranberries! Personally, I love the tart taste of these red holiday jewels and eat them year round. They are bursting with the antioxidant proanthocyanidins known to combat oxidative stress and decrease inflammation. Also, they are a good source of fibre and vitamins C and K. A 60 ml (¼ cup) serving of fresh cranberries is only 13 calories.
2. Put A Cap On The Bevies
During the festive season, it's common to consume more alcohol. Excess alcohol can relax inhibition, and stimulate appetite. With the number of parties and dinners over the holidays, limit alcohol to one to two drinks per event.
Here's how: Consider skipping the glass of wine (>200 calories per 250 ml) at dinner and replace it with sparkling or still water. At a cocktail party, choose either one glass of red wine, a skinny cocktail such as cranberry juice and vodka with fresh raspberries, or low-fat eggnog with a splash of rum and cinnamon. Then switch to sparkling water with a lime twist to cut the calories and stay well hydrated for the rest of the party.
3. Maintain Your Sleep Schedule
Although holidays are considered a time of rest and relaxation for some, busy schedules and family commitments can get in the way of a good night's rest. Sleep deprivation has been reported to alter the function of the body's hormones involved in hunger and satiety responses, which can lead to increased food intake.
Instead of burning the midnight oil during the festive season, ensure you maintain a sleep routine. Head to bed early and get plenty (at least seven hours for adults) of restful sleep every night. This will help keep your food intake on track over the holidays!
Drinking water will help you feel fuller so you're less tempted to over-eat, and you'll look better staying hydrated.
I'm always surprised when clients and friends aren't aware and mindful of the calorie-wallop in their daily candy cane hot chocolate or peppermint mocha frappucino. You can consume close to 500 calories in one beverage!
Instead, stick to an Americano or coffee (sans sugar), allowing for a festive indulgence once a week to enjoy your favourite homemade holiday sweet along with it. At least then you won't be fooled by the liquid indulgent full of hidden calories.
5. Energize With Exercise
So many people put their exercise routines on hold during the holidays which I do not recommend. With the inevitable extra food and added holiday stress, exercise is the best way to keep up your energy and sweat out some of those extra calories.
If your holiday schedule is not allowing you to get the gym, then stay motivated by choosing activities that get the entire gang involved, such as touch football, walking, hiking, skating, skiing and snowshoeing. Your body will thank you for it!
Final Hacks To Ward Off Holiday Weight
Don't forget about water. Drinking water will help you feel fuller so you're less tempted to over-eat, and you'll look better staying hydrated. Holidays can be a stressful time for people due to work deadlines, financial pressures, entertaining, and tension from family situations.
Develop healthy daily coping habits which don't involve eating! By dedicating 15 to 30 minutes daily to meditation or yoga and 15 to 30 minutes of daily fitness such as power walking, you will cruise through the holidays in a happy, healthy way.
Avoid the holiday weight gain this year with these simple hacks to maintain your healthy living strategy.
Enjoy the Holidays!