How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
Top 10 Tips
by Nancy Hearn, CNC
Holiday turkey dinner
I heard an interesting statistic on the morning news recently that might help some people avoid holiday weight gain.
The researcher said that most people consume an additional 619 calories per day (on average) from Thanksgiving Day until New Year’s Day!
What that means for most people is putting on an additional 5 to 10 pounds of fat—not a healthy way to start the New Year.
The good news is that it is possible to fully enjoy food throughout the holiday without gaining weight and without obsessing about calories.
Top 10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
- Drink more water. This is the easiest way to manage weight because drinking more water can suppress appetite naturally, increase calorie burning, and help raise metabolism. With your primary focus on hydration, you will not have to focus as much on food restriction or spending hours at the gym. In addition, if you are drinking more water, you will drink less of the high calorie beverages, such as coffee lattes, sodas, alcohol, and other sugary beverages. To get started, commit to drinking at least 1/2 oz. of filtered drinking water per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 190 pounds, you will need to drink at least 95 oz. (about 3 quarts or liters) of filtered water each day. Get a glass quart jar and keep track of how many quarts you drink. This is a must! So many people have told me that they drink "a lot of water," but when they actually measured it, it was much less than they thought.
- Weigh yourself today. Seriously, weigh yourself and make a note on your calendar, phone or planner. Then commit to weighing yourself again on January 2. After today, do NOT think about your weight for the rest of the year. Rather, focus on the pleasure of your close relationships, the fun of giving and receiving, and all the things you enjoy about the holidays. "Whatever you put your attention on will expand," or so they say. Whether it is a universal law or not, it seems to be true in my life. If it seems true to you, decide if you want to expand your waist line or your good fortune . . . and focus on that. Everyone can find something to be grateful for.
- Eat more veggies. No matter what else you eat, commit to eating 4 to 5 servings of raw or steamed veggies or a large vegetable salad every day. If you are going to a pot-luck dinner or party, you know the “tasty stuff” will be there. So do yourself and everyone else a favor and volunteer to bring salad or raw veggies with guacamole. (Avocadoes are a healthy fat and very satiating.) On a daily basis, chop up a variety of raw veggies and have them available at home and at work. Raw veggies will fill you up, and the fiber and enzymes will assist with digestion and elimination.
- Respect the 80/20 rule. All that rich food will be around often during the holiday season—but not all the time. The key is to eat food that makes you feel well at least 80 percent of the time and allow yourself a moderate portion of the high-calorie foods on special occasions without guilt or remorse. Always eat sitting down (no standing allowed), slow down and chew your food thoroughly. Enjoy your food and your company. Eating unconsciously (like snacking while watching TV) or eating on the run is where we get into trouble.
- Be prepared. Take the time to prepare healthy snacks and bring them with you wherever you go—whether it’s working, shopping, or exercising. Whatever you do, don’t show up at a party with ravenous hunger. Eat small meals throughout the day with lean protein and healthy fats to control appetite and keep you satisfied. The key is to minimize your intake of sugar and starchy carbohydrates. Avoid snacking after dinner. This is when the extra calories are most likely going to convert to fat because they are not required for energy. If you are used to having dessert after dinner, try a few dark chocolate covered almonds.
- Combine food wisely. A major contributor to weight gain is poor digestion and elimination. You can significantly improve your digestion by following these simple food combining rules as often as possible: (1) Eat fruit alone, (2) Avoid combining starch and animal protein, (3) Eat starches alone or with vegetables, (4) Always eat meat protein with vegetables, and (5) Avoid drinking fluids with meals (especially sodas and fruit drinks).
- Exercise daily. Even if you’re drinking more water and eating lots of raw veggies, you still need moderate exercise to boost your metabolism and burn fat. Otherwise, your body will think you’re hibernating and slow things down to conserve energy. So bundle up and get outside or hop on the treadmill and walk at least 15 minutes a day. You will actually burn more FAT if you exercise moderately rather than intensively. If you want to increase your metabolism more, add 15 to 20 minutes of light weight training twice a week.
- Sweat it out. An easy way to burn calories is to sweat it out in an infrared sauna. Unlike conventional saunas, the infrared sauna is a more comfortable way to experience the many health benefits of heat therapy, including toxin removal and weight loss. A single session in a sauna (30 to 60 minutes) will burn up to 600 calories. Infrared saunas are one of the few healthy ways to burn calories without exercising. Even though many people try to avoid sweating because it is uncomfortable, it is one of the most effective ways to eliminate toxins from the body. Toxin removal alone can help with weight management.
- Do less, enjoy more. Stress begins in the mind and is expressed in the body. When we perceive a stressor (such as having too much to do during the holidays or not enough money to pay bills), our body sends chemical messengers in the form of stress hormones to help our bodies handle the stress. Unfortunately, these stress hormones over time can create an acidic condition in the body along with eventual weight gain. Having too much to do is a stressor that we can control by simply choosing to do less—less shopping, less decorating, less cooking, less worrying.
- Be aware of your feelings. Our emotional connection to food is evident. Most of us are more likely to eat excessively or to eat more of the unhealthy foods when we are feeling sad, nervous, or anxious. And the holidays tend to stir up some of these feelings. If we suppress the feelings, they will persist. If we express them inappropriately, we may say something we will regret. The alternative is to be aware of the thoughts and feelings as they arise—without judgment—and simply let them go. I know, easier said than done. Setting aside 10 minutes daily for prayer or meditation can be helpful. The best tools I have found for stress management are made by HeartMath, such as the Inner Balance Sensor. (see below)
For the sake of your health and ease into the New Year, implementing even a few of these tips (especially drinking more water) might help avoid holiday weight gain.
Remember, it is so much harder to lose weight than it is to maintain your current weight.
Take time out daily to prepare healthy food, to be still, to breathe deeply, and to enjoy all the good fortune in your life. And definitely don’t count calories!
P.S. Be sure to check out our Drinking Water and Weight Loss Tips.
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