Surviving the Holidays with Your Health Intact!
by Joan Kent, PhD
So. Happy Holidays, right?
About 69% of people say stress goes up during the holidays – crowds, long lines, gaining weight, debt, lack of time, and others.
Ironically, the coping strategies people use are food and alcohol – which, of course, can make any weight gain worse.
Here are 6 tips to minimize holiday damage to your food plan.
Exercise is key. It's a stress-buster. If you can keep your workouts going through the whole season, you'll feel much better and might not need to stress eat or drink as often.
Try early morning workouts – before your family are up and around. With fewer demands on you, a daily workout is more likely.
Or try BTN: Better Than Nothing. BTN workouts are short – perfect for a hectic day. No matter how busy you are, you can find 10, 11, or 12 minutes for a BTN workout.
BUT! To make this work, it needs to be physiologically meaningful. Pair the short duration with high intensity. Research shows high-intensity interval training can be more effective than longer, slower cardio.
Sample workout: Warm-up for 3 minutes – 1 minute easy, 1 minute a little harder, 1 minute a little harder. Remaining time is for intervals and recovery. Try 40 seconds very hard, with only 20 seconds of partial recovery. Keep that going for the last 7 minutes.
If 40 seconds is too long, try 30 seconds very hard, with 30 seconds of recovery. If exercise is new for you, make your intervals 20 seconds and your recovery 40 seconds.
Mainly: Just Do It!
Where do they keep the holiday goodies at your office? Stay out of that room.
Never skip meals on a party day. That's a binge waiting to happen. Eat as usual to prevent overdoing it when you're at the party, faced with temptations.
Eat some food before you go. Best choice would be protein (chicken, turkey, fish, etc.). Vegans can use plant-based protein powder: hemp, pea, rice, vegetable. (Nuts are NOT protein.)
At the buffet, take a full serving of protein first – 3 to 4 ounces of turkey, ham, whatever they have.
Next, cover at least half your plate with vegetables. Naked veggies are best, with sauce on the side. Choose clearer sauces or dressings.
Last, pick a small indulgence. Don't waste calories on foods you can get any old time (another dinner roll). Save the calories for one of Aunt Mildred's famous cranberry muffins.
[Confession: As a recovered sugar addict, I don't do this last part. Follow my lead if you're not sure you can stop once you start.]
Now step away from the buffet! Don't keep looking at the food you didn't take. Concentrate on what you have – and socialize with the people around you!
Eat your protein first. It will change your brain chemistry so you actually want less food.Then fill up on the vegetables; they're low in calories. Finally, have that muffin. Maybe.
Bonus tip: Limit indulgences to one per meal. Better yet, limit them to one per day. [Or try my way & avoid them.]
Avoid alcohol whenever possible. It affects brain chemistry and will make you want more food – junkier food.
If you drink, alternate 1 beverage – wine, beer, mixed drink – with 1 glass of sparkling water (or plain, cold water). Keep alternating until you stop drinking.
Meal Control Survival
If you're given any control over the meal, jump at the chance!
"Bring a dish" means put together a huge, beautiful vegetable platter or salad. If you're asked to bring dessert, bring fruit and nuts. Many guests will appreciate it. It's simply not true that everyone will grab the highest fat selection or the most decadent dessert when there's a choice.
If you control meals at home, modify recipes all season long. Everyone has a great recipe for mashed potatoes, for example, but substitute chicken broth for butter or cream. Cut butter and sugar in half in other recipes; it will probably go unnoticed by your family.
Avoid glazing veggies, nuts or fruits. It's unnecessary sugar.
These are just a few tips to navigate holiday events with less stress, less weight gain, and better health.
What if you jumped into next year feeling and looking great? What if you could focus on things that matter in January, instead of having to lose the weight you gained over the holidays (again)? How amazing would that feel? Just visit www.LastResortNutrition.com and grab your free Empowered Eating Consultation. I'd love to help you make this your healthiest holiday season ever.
Brought to you by Dr. Joan Kent, best-selling author of Stronger Than Sugar: 7 Simple Steps to Defeat Your Sugar Addiction, Lift Your Mood, and Transform Your Health.