This year, you can do it—you can avoid holiday weight gain! Halloween is almost here, basically kicking off the holiday season. Just look around, and you’ll probably see Christmas sections in your area superstores. And at least one of your friends has posted a countdown on Facebook, right? For many Americans, Halloween marks the “downward spiral” of our diets—and our sanity—until New Year’s Day. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just like anything else, if you approach the holidays with focused intent (and a plan) you can keep your cool—and your pant size!
Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain (and Other Hurdles) Begins in Your Head
The amount of weight the average American gains during the holidays is hotly debated by various studies. But let’s set that aside for a moment. As integrative physicians, we’re concerned about optimizing your health overall. This includes watching out for weight gain, physical exhaustion, stress, and other maladies that appear during the holidays.
No matter the health hazard, the solution is the same. Holistic medicine tends to lean that way! Take a moment — let it be this one — to mentally prepare ahead of time. This means just deciding to be mindful about:
- getting enough sleep
- nurturing your family’s immune systems
- practicing self-care: massage, regular chiropractic, exercise, meditation (your choice)
- remembering YOUR reason for the season (faith, family, food—see below!)
It’s your choice…whatever cues you to create healthy holiday habits, do it!
Dr. C’s Food Tips to Halt Holiday Weight Gain
Let’s face it, a good part of the holidays is all about food! There’s both seasonal foods and family food traditions that you don’t find the rest of the year. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just go into it prepared! We’re bringing out three more of Dr. Cannizzaro’s Nutrition Nuggets to help you curb holiday weight gain!
Eat meals: This tip will help you out emotionally and physically. Taking the time to eat a meal will force you to slow down, plan and eat a balanced meal. Grazing on whatever’s available (unless it’s raw veggies) is usually not a good plan. Even if you’re the rare person that does this, you need protein, too! If you’re running out of time, it takes 5 minutes to whip up a Perfect Pumpkin Smoothie instead of hitting the drive-through because you’re ravenous. Remember, you want to be able to indulge during the holidays, and fast food packs almost a full day’s calories into one meal. Plus, fast food isn’t nutritious enough to keep you energized.
Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds: Office parties and meals with family and friends offer a smorgasbord of culinary delights. Studies have shown that we eat more when presented with more options (this might explain the love/hate relationship we have with buffet-style restaurants). Scan what’s available before you make your choices and choose wisely. Enjoy your plate and then throw it away! (Well, if it’s a paper plate.) We’re so lucky. For most of us, there will always be more food to eat tomorrow.
Treat treats as treats: Aunt Nancy’s sticky pecan breakfast buns . . . Abuela’s famous pasteles . . . Mom’s peanut butter cookies . . . the annual office holiday party! Sugar and starch abound during the holidays and we all have our favorites! The key to avoiding holiday weight gain is to treat treats as treats! It’s really no different any other time of year, but just especially hard this time of year. So plan ahead. If you really want to enjoy guilty items guilt-free, don’t indulge in other foods that you don’t care as much about. Following the tips above will help. If you ate nutritious meals all day, you won’t be so hungry that restraint is tossed out the window. If you managed to eat only one plate of food, you can have your treat, too.