How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain by Barbara Toman
We are so busy taking care of everyone else and having the perfect preparations that a huge blind spot is that we forget to care for ourselves. When we are not present in our bodies and caught up in the whirlwind of the holiday rush, we tend to eat those extra treats that temporarily make us feel good and gives us quick energy, but the downside is that we eventually crash and feel worse off. So, I have defined some tips to help keep you sane, healthy and eliminate weight gain during this holiday season, so you are not saying to yourself on December 31st, “What have I done? I over ate and I am not feeling so great.” You can avoid the food and emotional hangover that comes with poor planning or reckless abandon during the holiday.
TIP 1-Plan your meals- When we eat at regular intervals, we keep our blood sugar levels stable, which helps keep our weight and mood in check. Think about a time when you had too much sugar, white flour and/or processed/ fried foods. You tended to eat more because the receptors in the stomach did not get the message of feeling full. Not to mention the brain sends a chemical message to the pancreas to secrete insulin. When insulin is too high or not effective anymore due to poor diet, sugar cannot get into the cells to be utilized for energy, so the excess sugar gets stored as fat around the middle and you tend to look like Santa Claus. A good spacing for mealtime is; breakfast, then 4 hours later lunch then 5 hours later, dinner. Try not eating after 7:00pm, or, if you have to eat late, make sure you keep it light and easy to digest. Our bodies are designed to start to wind down for bed and not digest heavy meals after 7:00pm.
TIP 2-Eat nutrient dense/colorful foods-Nothing will keep you fuller than eating real food; the food that is closer to nature. I never had a client say, “Wow, I finished a big bag of carrots and still feel hungry.” I have had people say,” I started eating chips, cookies, etc. and I just couldn’t stop.” Foods that are closer to nature: i.e. fruits and vegetables ,help keep us feeling full because the simple reason is that we ARE full. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber and water that help satiate and keep us full. Fruits and vegetables take more time to chew and digest, plus they do not contribute to a huge spike in blood sugar levels.
TIP 3-Sleep/Rest for a normal metabolism. Your body secretes hormones at night that actually aid in weight loss. The two main hormones are; Ghrelin that works with the brain to signal hunger. If you go on a calorie-restricted diet, Ghrelin is elevated and makes it very difficult to lose weight since excess Ghrelin signals the brain that you are always hungry. Leptin is released from fats cells; the more fat cells you have, the more Leptin is released. Leptin signals the brain to have your body eat less and burn calories, but too much body fat causes Leptin resistance so your body never gets the right signal to eat less.
TIP 4-Schedule exercise-What is the best exercise? The one you will do! This is a great time to schedule social time with friends you have not seen in a while. What better way to connect with friends this holiday season, than to call and invite to go on a 4-5 miles hike or join you in a Zumba class? You can partner your work out time with a great invitation to meet with friends. Who says you need to make every social event about food. Exercise will increase the good hormones like endorphins that will help you feel happy.
The holidays are to be enjoyed and food does not have to be the focus. Remember with these few simple tips, you will be well on your way to a healthy, happy new year.
Barbara Toman, owner of BodyWise, LLC is a LEAN Certified Health Coach and a Licensed Massage Therapist. www.bodywisellc.com
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