During the holidays, all good intentions of trying to keep your health and nutrition on track is a lot easier said than done, especially when there is a feast of stuffing, gravy, and warm buttered rolls coming for you hot from the oven. The holidays are for merriment and only come once a year, but it’s important to realize the cost of snoozing your alarm from your daily exercise routine and enjoying an extra serving of mashed potatoes and small slice of pumpkin pie.
These extra servings might seem innocent, but these indulgences come at a cost. Don’t let poor eating habits carry on into the colder months. The accumulation of these pounds unfortunately won’t melt as fast as the snow in the spring. Here are my five ways to lose weight after holiday eating, that I even follow myself.
Research shows that sugar intake can be addicting and can lead to an unhealthy cycle of cravings and binges. This is largely due to the insulin spikes that accompany foods with high sugar content. Insulin drops blood sugar and causes storage of extra calories as fat, and causes a sugar crash later, making you irritable, sleepy, and is responsible for “food coma”. The sugar crash also causes further sweet cravings in order to raise your blood sugar level, but inevitably results in another crash, causing a snowball phenomenon which can be hard to escape from.
With those many holiday parties ending in sugar cookies and other sweets, ’tis the season of high levels of sugar and fat! After your last holiday dinner, make a vow to eliminate ALL desserts for four to ten days. Although it wont be easy, this amount of time will cause any cravings that your body has begun to experience to be relinquished. While cravings decrease, your body will begin to prefer naturally sweet foods, including fruit and vegetables.
Did you know that your stomach is “elastic”—meaning it can shrink or enlarge based on the amount of food you consume? This is one of the major reasons for failure of weight loss surgery, as even a surgically created tiny stomach can adapt over time to accomodate larger amounts of food. Scary, huh? Well, the opposite is also true.
If you eat less, over time, your stomach will shrink to feel fuller on smaller amounts of food, making you eat less calories, and keep weight off. Try it. While eating at home or out at a local restaurant, take 1/3 off your plate. Reduce all temptation to finish your entire plate by putting some aside. Either put it in a container or ask your server for a bag to go and save it for lunch the following day. By doing this, you can shrink your stomach after a season of over-eating and subtract hundreds of calories from your daily caloric intake.
Let’s do something we all love. Up the protein! Research suggests that protein prolongs the feeling of fullness. The reason: it is more difficult to digest, leading to less of an insulin spike, and protein containing foods are bulkier. Instead of eating carbohydrates, people who eat a high-protein breakfast or lunch are often less hungry at their next meal. Protein also requires your body to burn a few more calories to digest it.
I suggest sticking to low-fat protein sources like chicken, salmon, greek yogurt or thinly sliced turkey breast. Opt for protein during all meals going forward and you will cut excessive eating that often happens when not feeling full.
All those IPAs and pomegranate martinis you had this month have an effect on your health in more ways than one. Besides the sugar and fat, when it comes to the calories in alcohol, the stomach and brain do not register these liquid calories the same as solids. We often continue to eat and drink without taking into account the added calories. It is time to cut back on the eggnog and find some alterntives for satisfying and less guilty beverages.
When thirsty, try low-calorie drinks, such as tea (skim milk and sweetener), sparkling water, or a pitcher of fruit-infused cold water. My personal favorite is Crystal Light. People very often mistake thirst for hunger, so next time you feel like snacking, reach for water first, drink a few glasses, and wait 20 minutes. Often, your false “hunger” that was actually thirst, will go away. These low-calorie drinks can boost metabolism, curb hunger, and refresh with healthy antioxidants. Cutting back on the cocktails alone will greatly aid in losing the extra holiday pudge.
While doing all of these, in order to lose the weight faster, increase your daily exercise. After the holidays, resume your normal gym routine if you have a membership or join a nearby gym. Some of the best deals and discounts off classes and memberships begin right after the holidays. Sign up for a class you can’t cancel on to get back on track and into your routine. If you’re already a dedicated gym rat, try some light cardio or weight training on your rest days.