It is common to gain some weight during any holiday season. We are, in general, eating any kinds of foods and much more than usually because we tend to socialize more, which give us less time to plan ahead. While it may be tempting to put healthy habits in the "waiting list" and get back on track after holidays, doing so can compromise our health or even making it more difficult to reach our maintenance or weight loss goals later on. With only a few adjustments, it is possible to maintain, or even lose weight, during this holiday season. Here are some useful tips to help you keeping a healthy and "clean mind set" before it is too late!
Stick to healthy meals
Parties or holiday treats during Christmas typically mean extra calories, so better plan ahead to make sure your upcoming meals are always healthy:
- Do not to skip meals to avoid over-eating later on. Skipping breakfast or lunch in order to “save your appetite” is probably not the best idea. Breakfast typically affects appetite, energy intake, and the metabolic and endocrine responses to foods to be consumed later during the day. So better stick to a reasonably sized breakfast full of healthy ingredients
- It is more tempting to get take-out specially if you do not have anything ready to eat at home. If you usually take-out for lunch or dinner, cut back on calories by bringing a healthy meal instead. Cooking your own meals over the weekend can help you eat more sane while, at the same time, save you time. Try to stock up on healthy foods, like frozen vegetables, quinoa, or brown rice, so that you always have something ready to make. Cook extra when possible so that you always have leftovers meals to freeze and reheat later. If attending a party, bring your own foods if possible. Rather than trying to figure out what is in every dish at the party (or avoiding to eat "just in case"), better bring your choice of healthy side dish or dessert while, at the same time, you are helping other people's health
- Include quality carbs like brown rice, veggies, and healthy fats in every meal. Vegetables has been shown to protect against obesity. Though fats have a bad reputation, the truth is that we need fats in our diet in order to provide energy and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, plus also helps us to feel full. So better go for the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from avocados, nuts or olive oil. Also eat fruits whenever possible. While low in calories, a variety of colourful veggies and fruits can also help to boost our immune system. Proteins (fish, turkey, roasted chicken, etc.) and high-fiber foods like veggies, grains and legumes can also help to keep us full longer. Studies have shown that fiber-enriched foods help to reduce food intake by satiation. Interestingly, combining fats with high-fiber foods, like dipping veggies in guacamole, has been shown to increase the feeling of stomach fullness. But, generally speaking, any healthy meal choice will help you to feel full longer time
- Eat slowly. The quicker we eat, the less time the body has to register fullness. Eating slowly increases the postprandial response of the anorexigenic gut hormones, peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1. So slow down and take your time to enjoy every bite you eat.
- Say no to sweet desserts. If you are eating them out for a habit, try any fruit instead, or a small piece of very dark chocolate (80-90% cacao) or much better a hot coffee or tea (read below). Good thing is that after you cut out sweets for a while, you may end up not craving them as much as you used to, which will make easier to avoid them in the future
- Cut down refined carbohydrates like sugar and white bread to help balance the good-bacteria levels and having a healthy gut. Taking a high-quality probiotic, such a bacteria-enriched yogurt, to restore the levels of beneficial bacteria can also help. Added sugar may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity, so better stick to sugar that comes in its natural form (like fruits, veggies, and whole grains) or just try a small taste of the sweets you are truly craving for, rather than eating a full chocolate cake
- Flavoured coffee drinks are very popular now a days, specially during holiday seasons, but they might contain as many calories as a meal if you pick the wrong choice. Better choose a artificially sweetened (sugar-free) coffee or herbal tea instead. These will keep you hydrated and provide you with additional health benefits in the form of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds, and may even help you to lose weight due to its lipolytic power
- Skip alcoholic drinks. "Alcohol" is not only high in calories but also toxic for our body as the liver has to process it out to reduce toxicity
- Keep your body out of toxins by drinking lots of water: the magic element. Water make you full while keep you hydrated for proper brain and body function, and, ultimately, helping you to lose weight as it is the healthiest and most necessary calorie-free drink.
Changing eating habits to the right macronutrient proportions to avoid weight gain might also help.