It's. About. To. Go. Down.
No, not your bank account, well actually that will too but I'm talking about the tidal wave of food that's about to hit us through the holiday season. It tends to start mid-December and carries on through New Years.
If you've been on top of your health and nutrition throughout the year how do you navigate this minefield of Toblerone and gingerbread dwellings while not depriving yourself?
It takes a few things like awareness and a game plan so that you don't accidentally consume your weight in sugar cookies and cake that for some reason has fruit in it. Here are 4 ways to help avoid holiday weight gain.
1. Work Out Before Eating
Going for a "turkey waddle" after consuming 2000 calories is unfortunately not going to help you burn off fat. Working out beforehand might give you a leg up though. Exercising, primarily strength training or high-intensity interval training, sets your body up to be able to handle inferior food choices a bit better. Your body will need to replenish its muscle energy stores and will make better use of carbs than if you hadn't worked out. If you also perform high-intensity training you create an "afterburn" type effect which will help you burn calories long after your workout is done.
2. Eat Before You Go To Events Or Parties
This is going to help you in avoiding diving head first into the gingerbread house. When you're really hungry your body wants quick energy, usually, that centers around quick calorie dense "foods" that contain a lot of sugar and fat. Our bodies are programmed to crave these things the problem is the versions of these type of things have become very artificial and can lead to a whole bunch of problems including weight gain. To avoid going through the treat table like the Tazmanian Devil have a whole foods based meal that contains protein, soluble fiber and healthy fats to keep your fuller and for longer.
3. Focus On Protein & Vegetables
It's not always going to be possible to avoid all those snacks and treats but do yourself a favor and go for some protein and veg before you hit the snacks. This will help with a few things, firstly these food choices will help in getting you full like I mentioned above, secondly, they will help to balance out your blood sugar.
Eating high-sugared treats is still going to cause a blood sugar spike but you can at least keep it a little more under control with protein and fiber ate beforehand. Pretty much any event is going to have a veggie platter, cold cuts and cheese platter and going for these first can help in overeating that tray of gingerbread men that have your name on it.
4. Slow Down When You Eat
This is a good year round tip as well. Most people eat WAY too quickly and that can lead you to consume more than you needed. When you've got a lot of goodies on the scene this can spiral out of control quicker than a Kardashian trying to solve a Rubix cube. When you slow down your eating time you allow your body's fullness signals to reach the brain.
Eating should take at least 15-20 minutes for this mechanism to engage. When you eat too quick you override it and end up eating a lot more than was necessary. So keep an eye on the clock or on your Apple watch that probably won't be popular for much longer. If you're out for a meal at least try to be one of the last to finish and take your time in chewing to also help make digestion easier on your system.
Wrapping It Up
I don't think depriving yourself is an ideal thing at the holidays but you want to keep on top of all that good health and nutrition work you've been doing the rest of the year. I think the secret here is to indulge but don't OVER indulge. You're allowed to enjoy yourself and this time of year but you can take a few steps in order to not let things go off the rails.
And if someone brings a fruit cake to any party you're hosting they are perfect for regifting as book ends or festive door stops.
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