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.