Want to avoid putting on weight over the holidays?
The December and January holiday season is often called the “silly season” because it’s characterised by excesses in eating and drinking. And, if you think about it, it’s kind of silly to starve yourself for months to fit into a bikini, only to over indulge on holiday and for weeks thereafter.
Many of us will be eating out a lot more over this time. Eating out can be a great experience but “supersize” portions, endless variety, alcohol and tasty-but-kilojoule dense treats can turn out to be a dietary disaster. Most people end each year with quite a few kilos that were not there in October. Sure you may not manage to lose weight over the holidays but why not commit to keeping the scales balanced and not gaining any?
Holiday season survival tips:
Tip 1: Sharing is caring
Eating out can be challenging as so many meals are completely oversized. Save money and save kilojoules too! Ask your spouse, friend or family member if they would like to share meals. For instance, it is quite easy to share a wrap or trammezini and enjoy with a side salad. Doing so will half the kilojoules and fat content .. compensating for that extra portion of chocolate mousse.
Tip 2: Graze, don’t gorge.
Skipping meals or starving yourself to save for a special event is counterproductive as the problem is, you probably end up so famished by the time you go out that you end up over indulging and consuming more kilojoules than you would have had you snacked before eating out!
Eating light and eating often that is, a smart snack every 2 or 3 hours will keep your blood sugar levels steady and balanced. This will help you to cruise through before dawn starts and post midnight stops and help you to avoid over indulging. Smart snacks include fresh fruit, small portions of dried fruit and nuts, yoghurt or lean biltong.
Fill up on fibre as fibre has many benefits one of which is that it keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
One of the best sources of fibre is fruit and vegetables. Vegetables and salads can help you to manage your weight as these foods are low in kilojoules but high in nutrients. Ensure that each meal you have has at least one to two fistfuls of colour coming from fresh fruit, salads or vegetables. Sneak in extra fibre with minimum effort by having salads as starters; choose the crudités from platters, opt for fresh fruit salads, and snack on small portions of dried fruit or popcorn.
Tip 3: Go slow
The way you eat is as important as what you eat. Eating mindfully and chewing each mouthful properly may help you to eat less without feeling deprived. Try not multitask while eating. Stop eating when satisfied, not when full. You’ve worked hard to be able to relax on holiday so do just that, relax and take it slow. Be present in the moment, enjoy the conversation and be more aware of your surroundings, notice the people, the music, the décor and savour every mouthful.
Tip 4: Banish the booze
Every gram of alcohol provides 29 kilojoules so choosing a virgin cocktail saves many kilojoules! If you choose to drink, make sure you are not driving, and don’t ever binge. Alcohol is a toxin that is metabolized by the liver in preference to other liver functions including proper fat digestion. A tall cocktail made with three tots of alcohol and topped with fruit juice or other mixers can contain over 1000 kilojoules. When having wine or a cocktail compensate for the extra kilojoules by having no starch or pudding with your (next) meal. If choosing a lite wine be careful not to drink more than you would if you were drinking a regular wine. Dilute wine with soda water, have light beers and always have water or sugar-free cold drinks in between alcoholic drinks.
Tip 5: Stay moving
The problem with the holidays is we neglect exercise. We get busy with shopping, cooking, cleaning house, tanning and all sorts of things. Something’s got to be sacrificed and the first thing is usually exercise. But just like your eating, just a few tweaks in your exercise routine can help accommodate the caloric stresses of the holidays. If you only have 20 minutes then increase the intensity of your exercise. Instead of just socializing while eating why not encourage family and friends to join you on long afternoon walks? Getting your daily dose of feel good endorphins from exercise may make it easier for you to want to make healthier choices!
Don’t underestimate the power of simple changes and compensation. Small changes can add up to surprisingly big course corrections. Don’t wait for the new year to start taking small steps which move you forward to your ultimate goal!