Sunday, November 11, 2012

Controlling Holiday Weight Gain

It's the most wonderful time of year. American Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Hanukka, Kwanzaa; you name it, there's a reason to celebrate.
All well and good, but controlling ballooning weight gain this time of year can be awfully hard. Extra parties at work, with friends, with relatives add up quickly. Tempting treats, big dinners, excessive drinking are hundreds, if not thousands of extra calories you weren't taking in several months ago.
To make matters worse, the schedules get tighter, the weather is colder, the daylight hours are shorter, so the opportunity to burn off some of the excesses also decreases. Bad combination. Here are a few ideas to still enjoy, but control the extra pounds.

1. Have A Plan.
Absolutely critical. Know what type of party it is. Sit down meal, just appetizers, alcohol, desserts. Whatever you do, don't "bank" calories. What I mean by this, is don't starve yourself all day in preparation for eating "just a little extra" at the party. It WON'T work. Doing this generally leads to disinhibition at the event, with your brain telling you to gorge on high calories foods, because you have given it the signal all day that you are in starvation mode. Continue your usual routine through the day eating small healthy meals, and in fact, it often is worthwhile having a small snack just prior to going out.

2. Get A "Lay Of The Land".
When you arrive, don't reach for the first thing you see to eat or drink. Instead, take a minute to socialize, and look around and see what is being offered. Choose one or two things you'd like to try - I usually pick things that are special (that I can't normally get), seasonal, or just plain amazing. You don't have to "ban" any particular food - just stay in control and set a limit before you start.

3. Mix Drinks
This is an area a lot of people still have trouble with. Fluids tend not to make you feel full, and holiday drinks are calorie bombs. Egg nog, punch, hot chocolate, hot cider, can all be high in calories and fat, and only make you crave more. Alcoholic drinks are also high in empty calories and can disinhibit you from controlling the urge to shovel in high fat foods to absorb some of their effects.
Try an limit alcoholic drinks to 2-3 per party, and alternate with water or lighter drink.

One Final Note. Don't make the mistake in saying to yourself that "It's OK- I exercised today". No one can possibly exercise enough to burn off the calories you can pop in your mouth in mere minutes. It's important to  continue to exercise regularly, but don't get in the mindset that this gives you free reign to go crazy at the party tonight.

Enjoy the holiday season! Just don't let all your hard work keeping fit through the summer and autumn go to waste.

Let me know what other strategies you use to get through the holidays!

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