Lauren Gueriera, FNP
It’s not unusual for some of us to gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day—the holiday season, defined. Credible sources report that an average American adult can gain five to 10 pounds in this relatively short period of time. Taking that weight back off, as you may know, seems much more difficult than putting it on during this fun, but often hectic and demanding season. And bottom line, staying at an appropriate weight is essential to good vibrant health. At Premier Medical Center, our mantra for the holiday season is: Maintain, Don’t Gain!
To manage your weight over the next couple of weeks, consider these tips as you go from work, to party, to family celebrations.
- Be Active With Family and Friends
Instead of watching football on television before or after the meal on holidays, how about a walk with your family? Bundle up and get outside to make a snowman, have a snowball fight, or go sledding. You can also be active during the holidays by signing up for a workplace or community fitness competition or event. Running races are popular options.
- Be Smart When Snacking
Be a mindful snacker. With toffee, cookies and other office treats around, decide when and how much you’re going to eat. If you can’t stop at one cookie, it may be best to forego office treats altogether. Keep treats at home out of sight. And the best strategy of all is to have healthy snacks available. Fruit, nuts, and veggies with hummus are filling snacks that don’t have unhealthy fats or added sugar.
- Watch Your Portion Sizes
Weigh and measure your food, or eat off smaller plates. In a situation that leaves you unable to measure portions? Use your best judgment to fill your plate with a reasonable amount of food.
- Be Aware When Eating
Eat without distractions, focusing fully on the act of eating. That means no television or electronics. Chew thoroughly and eat slowly.
- Get Plenty of Sleep
Fact: Those who don’t sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories and get less physical activity. Why? A less-than-optimal amount of sleep may increase your hunger hormone levels, leading to higher calorie intake. Because you’re tired, you’re less likely to exercise. Although it can be a challenge to get consistent, adequate sleep during the holidays, as an adult you should aim for seven to nine hours per night.
- Control Your Stress Levels
It’s no secret that chronic stress results in higher levels of the cortisol hormone. Cortisol can increase food intake and cravings. So the best way to handle stress is to take it head on: yoga, meditation, exercise in any form and even deep breathing can combat holiday stress. Include as many of these healthy practices as you can reasonably fit into a day.
- Keep Meals Balanced With Protein
Like a potluck, holiday meals are typically rich in carbohydrates but low in protein. One good strategy is to have protein with every meal, since it promotes fullness. Try to include at least 25–30 grams of protein per meal. Think meat, poultry, fish, or non-meat foods like eggs, beans and quinoa.
- Focus on Fiber
Fiber is another important nutrient that induces fullness. Increased dietary fiber can reduce total calorie intake. Do your best to incorporate fiber-rich foods like unprocessed vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
- Choose Desserts Wisely and Savor Them; Limit Liquid Calories
Dessert is everywhere during the holiday season. While it may not be feasible to refuse desserts entirely, it can be helpful to focus on your favorites. Eat the one you really want! Forget the rest. Savor the dessert fully, to really taste and enjoy it. Same with alcohol- a source of empty calories and a potential link to increased appetite. If you do drink, make it “One and done!”
- Drink Water
It’s 100% calorie-free. It helps you burn more calories. And it may help suppress appetite if consumed before meals. The Mayo Clinic recommends 15.5 cups a day for men and 11.5 cups a day for women. That figure includes water and fluids from other beverages and food. Exercise, environment, overall health and pregnancy/breast-feeding influence these recommendations. (Our high altitude environment is dehydrating, and now that you’ve read this, with all the exercise you’ll be enjoying over the holidays, you may need an extra glass or two of H20!)
Lauren Gueriera, FNP, is a trained health coach. She would love to work with you on your weight loss goals starting now and into 2019. Contact her for a complimentary initial consultation.