Saturday, 31 July 2021

F Faith and Fitness

Holiday Health

Pecan pie!  Honey-glazed ham! Candy cane truffles! Holiday food can inspire anxiety or ecstasy—or both—depending on your mind-set. The average weight gain for the holiday season is just one pound. While that might not sound like much, research shows we don't lose it, and that one pound adds up year after year. And the news is worse for people who are already overweight, who add about five extra holiday pounds each year.

Sweet treats and rich meals can be landmines for health-conscious people, yet no one wants to feel deprived during the happiest season of all!   No need to fear—there are sensible ways to navigate this territory.

Eat what you love, leave what you like.

Instead of piling your plate a mile high with things that you aren't crazy about (like fruitcake!), pick only the foods that give you true enjoyment. If something doesn’t make you swoon, leave it on the sideline.

Keep your treats to one day a week.

The biggest mistake people make at the holidays is making Thanksgiving a four-day feast instead of a one-day indulgence. Then the holiday parties come, and all of a sudden you're giving yourself an excuse to have treats nearly every day. Rather than letting your holiday feast roll into pie for breakfast, limit your splurges to one event per week.

Nix the guilt.

Feeling guilty after eating foods you don't usually allow yourself to eat can breed more unhealthy behaviors. So abandon those negative voices in your head, give yourself permission to enjoy the indulgence guilt-free, and then remember to get back on track with your normal eating routine the very next day.

Don’t eat something just because it’s holiday food.

Listen to your body; most people eat particular foods like pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving or down cups of eggnog at a Christmas party because "that's what we do during the holidays." Indulging without thinking about what you’re putting into your body makes you ignore your internal cues of hunger. Do you really even like pumpkin pie or eggnog? Or if you could have any treat, would you choose your favorite ice cream or hot cocoa instead? Just because it’s limited doesn’t mean you have to eat it.

Eat low to high (when it comes to calories).

Start with a broth-based soup or salad, then move on to lean protein, and by the time you reach those triple-fudge brownies, a few bites will be all you need to feel satisfied.

Bring the punch.

Offer to bring the party punch, then "upgrade" your traditional recipe with natural sweeteners like stevia or 100% fruit juice. You could also mix club soda with fruit juice! This will help you stay away from the beverages that are full of sugar and calories!

Make holiday treats year-round.

Prevent some of that "last-chance eating" by promising to make your mom's pumpkin pie in February or your favorite green bean casserole in July. Knowing it will be available again means you won't feel the urge to “go for broke” and overeat it now.

Veg-out on veggies.

Try swapping light pureed cauliflower for carb-heavy mashed potatoes and add side dishes with more vegetables to "up" the nutritional value of the meal and keep you satisfied so you don't overeat. All that extra fiber will also help keep you regular, even if you do overindulge a bit on the cheese platter.

Don't be fooled by the "health halo."

File this under sad-but-true: You can gain weight even if you eat healthy. You can overdo it with the veggies and dip or creamy asparagus soup, just like you can with ice cream—except with the ice cream at least you know it’s an indulgence. So make sure you're not eating something based solely on its health-food status and keep an eye on your portion sizes.

Go to social gatherings to gather (not to eat).

You go to family gatherings, work parties, and other social events to see your friends and loved ones—so see them! Use these times to socialize and be present rather than rummaging for holiday treats. A good idea is to "pre-eat" something with protein and vegetables to keep you from being hungry so you can keep your focus where it belongs.

Bring out the skinny jeans.

Elastic waistbands, "relaxed fit" sweaters, and other loose clothing are practically an invitation to overeat. Leave those roomy pants in the back of the closet. Instead, bring out the bandage dresses, skinny jeans, slim-fit suit, or nipped-in blazer—whatever makes you feel sleek and slim. Not only will you look hot, your outfit will offer subtle reinforcement to keep you from getting seconds (or thirds)!

Just say no... to food pushers.

Whether it's your grandmother's caramel cake or your best friend's first attempt at a holiday roast, often you may feel forced to eat certain foods simply because people keep offering them to you. Put on a genuine smile, politely decline, and then offer a compliment. "Oh, these truffles look amazing, and you're so thoughtful to make them for me! I'm too full for them right now, but could I take a couple home?" They'll feel loved and you won't feel pressured to show your affection through busting a gut.

Rock the bed-head.

Between holiday traveling, work schedules, and all that shopping, it can be easy to skimp on sleep in order to get your to-do list done, but getting a consistent six to nine hours of sleep every night helps regulate hormones, promotes recovery from workouts, and prevents daily fatigue.  There's really no such thing as “catching up” on sleep, so the key is consistency.

Be a snack smuggler.

Traveling, shopping, and running errands during the holidays can lead to fast food or skipping meals.  To keep your appetite in check, never leave home without a snack. Choose options made with real ingredients to truly energize and nourish your body. (stay away from processed!)

Burn the bird.

No, we're not telling you to intentionally burn your holiday dinner.  Rather, try a post-feast interval workout or 30 to 45 minutes of cardio. (running, biking, elliptical, stationary bike...anything that gets your heart rate up)

Don't "save up" calories.

Fasting before a big meal can backfire.  Low blood sugar from hunger increases cortisol levels, which leads to cravings for fatty, salty, and sugary foods. Instead of saving up for the big meal, nibble on healthy snacks like raw veggies, nuts, and fruit throughout the day to avoid a full-blown gorgefest!

Detox your taste buds.

Over time we get used to eating foods that are high fat, high salt, or high sugar (or all three). By eating these foods regularly, we begin to diminish the ability of our taste buds to appreciate subtler flavors, and we train them that a hit of fat/salt/sugar is normal. The good news is that you can reset taste buds by cutting out processed foods for just one week. Then when you do indulge in a treat, you'll be able to appreciate all the flavors. You may even find that processed foods you used to love don’t even appeal anymore.

Three bites and good night.

Stick to the three-bite rule for desserts: The first bite is the best, the last the grand finale, and every bite in between is the same. In three bites, you get the full dessert experience, so really focus on savoring those three and you’re less likely to overindulge.

Trim the trimmings.

It turns out that most traditional holiday dishes are really not that unhealthy—think lean turkey, roasted vegetables, nuts—but adding in all the additional trimmings to the dishes are what make the calories rise quickly.  Simply eliminate extras such as gravy, cream sauces, butter, and crust on pies, and you'll avoid loads of unnecessary calories and fat.

Eat mindfully.

It sounds silly, but lots of people don't even realize when they're eating. Taking the time to choose food you really want to eat and then actively focusing on enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each bite will naturally help you slow down and stop when you're full.

Eat a good breakfast.

Eating a healthy breakfast sets the tone for the entire day. If you start your day off with a donut  or leftover pie, you can trigger a sweet tooth the rest of the day. Don’t skip breakfast either, as that will leave you dragging through your morning and more likely to overeat later because you’re starving. Start with something that has lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and some healthy fat to give you energy and keep you satisfied until your next meal.

Eat seasonally.

Summer gets all the credit for tasty fruits and veggies, but winter has lots to offer too. Feast on seasonal fruits like pomegranates, mandarin oranges, and red grapefruit. Not only are they at peak season, they’re packed with nutrients. Pistachios, chestnuts, and walnuts also make special appearances around the holidays, so feel free to eat a handful or two before hitting the buffet. These nuts are packed with fiber and healthy fats to help keep your appetite under control.

Use the “fork trick."

One of the biggest pitfalls of holiday eating is not being able to tell when you're full and no longer truly enjoying the food you're eating. To help you with this problem, try the “fork trick": Once you take a bite of food, place your fork down on the plate, and let go of the fork. Chew your food, swallow, and then pick up your fork again. The key to this trick is actually letting go of the fork. This will remind you to slow down, enjoy your food, and talk with friends and family.

Watch out for sneaky sugar.

You know that pumpkin pie with whipped cream or chocolate lava cake is nothing but sugar, but the sweet stuff hides in sneaky places like sauces, seasonings, and processed foods. Avoid sneaky sugars and eliminate the ones you won't miss, like the barbecue dipping sauce or the packaged crackers.

Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water.

It's easy to confuse thirst with hunger, leading to mindless snacking.  To make sure you're staying hydrated, drink half your body weight in water. So if you weigh 140 pounds, aim for 70 ounces of water over the course of the day.

Trying these helpful tips during these holiday season will help you stay healthier, help you avoid picking up an extra pound or two, and make you feel better in general!

Columnist: Kellye Davis Williams

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Kellye Davis Stellman is a personal trainer, gym owner, and certified Life Coach who focuses on the health and well being of her clients as well as coaching them to make positive changes that will impact the rest of their lives.  She helps them achieve their health and fitness goals as well as encourages them to strive for and achieve their “life goals” with her message of hope. 

Kellye resides in East Atlanta with her husband Keith.  She has 4 daughters and 3 grandchildren.  She is an active member of The Tabernacle Church.  In her spare time she loves traveling, spending time with her husband and daughters, shopping, and simply enjoying coffee with friends. 

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