As we know so well, this time of the year is associated with overeating and weight gain as so many parties and activities are focused around food and drink. It’s easy to go overboard with second helpings of decadent comfort dinners, stuffing ourselves with sweets, and having another round of drinks. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can really add up.
Eating at this time of the year can be challenging, I know as I went to my first holiday party this weekend. I don’t know what came over me, but when I saw the dessert table, I took a deep dive into the platter of double chocolate brownies like I was scoring a Dolce and Gabbana suit at the annual Barney’s sale.
The holiday season is young, if I keep this up, I’ll never be comfortable wearing those well-made suit pants!
When I woke up the morning after with a dull sugar hangover, I had a big girl talk with myself. I made the following food rules to live by for the rest of the holidays.
1. Don’t go out with an empty tank (like it did.)
1.Before setting out for a party, eat something at home, so you don’t arrive starved and in need of food and drink. When we are stressed, we weaken our ability to make good choices. Stress can make us crave sugary, fatty foods because it floods the body with cortisol, even when we have every intention of not overeating.
2. Drink to your health.
Stay hydrated by drinking lots of plain water. If you do drink alcohol, don’t overdo it. Spiked eggnog might seem fun but an 8-ounce glass is 500 calories, and wine, beer and cocktails can set you back 100’s of calories per drink. Also, alcohol increases your appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat. All of the sudden that plate of deep fried zucchini becomes very tempting.
3. Distance helps the heart stay healthy.
At a party move around and don’t park yourself next to the food table as all that food can be seductive and make you mindlessly reach for food you don’t really want to eat.
4. Be buffet savvy.
Take a slow walk around the food table before putting anything on your plate. By checking out all of your options, you might be less inclined to pile on items one after another.
5. Eat to Savor, Not Gorge Eating.
We are biologically wired to want comfort foods (and holiday foods perfectly fit this bill) when we feel stressed, overwhelmed and overly excited. Practice a mindful attitude, slow down, eat slowly, take small bits and enjoy. Don’t over eat just because there is so much delicious food being offered.
6. Pay attention to what really matters.
Although food and drink is an integral part of the holidays, put the focus on family and friends, laughter and joy.
7. Give yourself a break.
If balance and moderation are your general guides, then make it okay to indulge or overeat once in a while just not every party you attend.
8. Sleep well and stay fit.
Get plenty of sleep and stay the course with your regular exercise to ward off stress and fatigue that all the parties and shopping can create
9. Put on your walking shoes or dancing shoes and MOVE.
After a big meal, instead of sitting down and watching sports on TV or catching up with out-of-town cousins over more homemade Pecan pies take a brisk 20-minute walk right after you eat. This supports better digestion and uses up the nutrients more efficiently you consumed while eating. Walking stimulates your metabolism, which in turn helps in burning calories. The faster your metabolism, the quicker you’ll burn calories, and thus, the better your weight will be controlled. So no excuse no matter the weather, the location, the situation. Rally family and friends to join you and take a walk around your hood or turn on your favorite dance grooves and cut a rug. Your Uncle Joe and Aunt Betsy will know precisely what that means.