Easy tips for avoiding holiday weight gain

’Tis the season for tempting foods, family dinners, office parties, and a lot of other distractions that can deter you from eating healthily. Christmas, Channukah and New Year’s are just around the corner, and most likely you’re going to be overindulging in food, alcohol and just about whatever else you can get your hands on. But, this year you can decide to manage your weight and live a healthy lifestyle with these tips.
Think of the 90/10 rule
The holidays can be a time of great temptations: eggnog, cookies, brownies, chocolate candies, holiday parties, and spirits. But, did you know that allowing yourself an occasional indulgence will not cause a drastic weight gain — and it can actually help keep your weight on track? Just think of the 90/10 rule: Eat healthy meals 90 percent of the time and allow yourself that 10 percent treat.
We start to gain weight when we increase our calorie intake over time. For example, having that once-a-year cup of eggnog (about 400 calories) is fine. Problems of weight gain occur when we have a cup of eggnog each night, or we pair the eggnog with cookies each night. Then we start to see weight gain, slowly over a period of time. So don’t beat yourself up for eating something that’s yummy and gooey — enjoy a small portion — and then go right back to eating natural wholesome foods 90 percent of the time.
Remember “tomorrow” never comes
Try to avoid getting into a mindset that reasons, “This will be my last treat,” or “I’ll start a new diet tomorrow.” It’s important to note that new habits begin slowly, and that it’s easy to fall back into old ones, resulting in yo-yo dieting. So start right now! Don’t wait for the New Year to begin a healthy eating plan.
Stock your cupboards and refrigerator with healthy food and snacks. Another great idea is to start an eating diary through the holidays. Writing down everything you eat will help increase your food intake awareness.
Practice meditative eating
Slow down and enjoy your food. Too often, we rush through our meals; we eat while watching television, reading the newspaper, or surfing the Web. Instead, try to play some relaxing background music while you eat. Set an attractive table using your favorite dishware and light some candles. Just remember to savor each bit. Listen to your body and stop eating before you feel full.
Start new traditions
Get active now! The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with the family. Why not go for family walks in the park or for a nice long leisurely hike in the mountains? Set a new tradition this year and have a family bike ride for the holidays. Just try to pick a new activity each week and do it. Your weight will stay in check if you stay active.
Be kind to yourself
Take time out for you. The holiday rush can be a very stressful time. And often during times of stress, we overeat. Also when we are stressed, our hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland, which signals the adrenal glands to release a stress hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol can cause inflammation, and according to researchers from Yale, cortisol may cause women to deposit fat in their midsection.
Each day, set aside at least ten minutes just for you. Wake up 15 minutes early and enjoy the sunrise or sit outside in the evening and enjoy the sunset. Get active — aerobic activity helps to reduce stress. And, get plenty of sleep each night.
Other holiday health tips
— Make sure to eat before you leave for a party; choose a healthy snack so that you don’t end up filling up on chips and dip.
— If you overindulge in alcohol, take a 100-milligram B-complex vitamin before bed, and drink a lot of water.
— For every alcoholic beverage you consume, drink one glass of water. This will slow down your alcohol consumption and prevent dehydration.
Throughout the whole season, eat well and incorporate foods that will defend against viruses. Citrus fruits, rich in vitamin C, provide antioxidants known for their ability to support the immune system. Vegetables, which contain beta-carotene, also nourish our immune system against viruses and are useful for supporting the respiratory tract.
Make sure to incorporate garlic into your diet. It helps impede potential viruses and can be the key to promoting an active immune system when the weather turns cold.
Happy holidays

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