The holidays don’t have to be synonymous with weight gain and overindulging. Instead of resorting back to old habits, why not get a head start on the New Year? By making a few small changes to your nutrition and lifestyle routine, you can stay in control and positive this holiday season.
Here are some of my favorite practical fit tips for December:
Focus On Weight Maintenance
Holiday parties and massive amounts of food can make weight loss seem very intimidating during the holiday season. You may start restricting yourself to “save” calories for an event, but ultimately give in to overeating at the end of the day. Once the New Year rolls around, you have to do some “damage control” on the 10 pounds that mysteriously snuck up on you. My personal tip to clients during the holiday season is to focus on weight maintenance. Instead of stressing over losing weight, try your best to maintain where you are and not gain any additional weight during this month. Once the new year hits, you can get right back on track with your weight loss journey.
Avoid Skipping Meals
This goes hand-in-hand with the weight maintenance concept. Skipping meals does not equal weight loss! If anything, starving yourself and going for a long period of time without food actually slows the metabolism down and can lead to weight gain. Feed your metabolism with wholesome, fresh, natural foods throughout the day. Listen to your body, and eat to nourish.
Incorporate More Fiber
High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; these items tend to be low in calories, but high in vitamins and minerals. Dietary fiber helps normalize bowel movements and aids regularity. Even more importantly, fiber actually helps regulate blood sugar levels by preventing insulin spikes. Fiber also moves fat through your digestive system at an efficient rate so that less of it can be absorbed. The average healthy adult should be consuming 25 (females) to 38 (males) grams of fiber daily.
Eat Your Calories, Don’t Drink Them
Do you ever notice that alcohol doesn’t typically carry a nutrition facts label? You may be drinking away a bottle of wine without realizing how many calories even a glass is worth. If you’re trying to manage your weight, try to at least cut back on the size of your drink. Start with half a glass of wine and pace yourself throughout the night. Other items like soda, juice, and sugary beverages are just not worth the weight gain. Opt for seltzer, fruit-infused water, and unsweetened iced teas. There are a variety of new sparkling water products with unique flavor combinations that can satisfy your taste buds.
Stay Active At Least Three Times Per Week
During the holiday season, we are typically taking in more calories than usual. Between holiday parties and coworkers bringing in festive treats, it can be easy for sugar and calories to add up. Try to offset your caloric intake by staying physically active at least 3x/week. Although any physical activity is better than nothing, setting a routine to exercise at least 3x/week can lead to a significant calorie burn and muscle gain.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.
Stefani Pappas, MS, RDN, CDN, CPT, is a Clinical Dietitian Nutritionist at St. Francis Hospital. She also provides private and group nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck, NY. Visit her website www.StefHealthTips.com for more information.