Dec 24, 2013

Holiday Weight Gain

Holiday weight gain is something that people of our generation have accepted and even expect.  Most of us are fortunate enough that we have plenty of food so we are not lacking in that area but sometimes we are still malnourished because of poor food choices.  Sometimes we over eat because it is available but we have to reprogram  our way of thinking  to overcome this.  The holidays are extremely difficult because of the emphasis placed on food.  I used to joke around and say that I had to  lose 5lbs to compensate for the 5lbs I would gain from the holidays but the truth is I have never enjoyed gaining weight over the holidays.  I just laughed about it because it seemed like it was unavoidable.

Christmas is tomorrow and there is always so much food- the Christmas portions can get crazy!  Wahoo.  I love Christmas and the joy that it brings.  I am like a little kid.  I literally squeal when I see Christmas lights and wonderful displays.  I wriggle around and clap my hands....what a vision that is!  hahaaa.  I go out of my way to see decorations and I just cannot get enough.  I love listening to Christmas music and being around all the holiday cheer.  Not to mention the family time.

When I was growing up I still loved all the lights and music, etc but I did not really appreciate the true meaning of Christmas the way I do now.  I loved the family time but I think that was because of the presents and  how many cool things I would get.  

Now I appreciate Christmas for all that it is--not saying I don't love gifts anymore--but I enjoy spending time with family and knowing the joy that it brings my grandmother when she is able to see the grand kids.  

It is also a time that I reflect on this being the birth of Christ.  Admittedly, I probably do not express my gratitude to Him as much as I should during this time of year (or the rest of the year for that matter) but I do think about the miracle of Him a lot more.

I loved the meals because they were always specialties that we do not usually have year round.  The turkey gave way to leftover turkey sandwiches, casseroles & other turkey plates that were just outstanding.  The ham meant we had bean and ham soup.  My mom used to make ham hock & bean soup which I learned later that others just call ham and bean soup.  I also learned there were many varieties of it but at the time it seemed like nobody had ever heard of it and all my friends thought it sounded gross.

My grandma made (and still makes) Italian food.  My favorite is Italian sausage with peppers and onions.  She also makes some type of pasta with meatballs. OMG!!  I wish I could have it more than Christmas but I know it is a lot of work.

Christmas Day we go to my bf's family and they have TONS of food and there are appetizers.  There is so much food there and I understand why one plate can consist of 3000 calories!!  Everyone  knows that 3500 calories equals 1 pound so if a person eats one plate with 3000 calories on it and then a desert, they have over consumed for the entire day!!  The reality is most people go back for seconds and desert is usually a minimum of 500 calories.  This is how weight gain occurs.

Then the next few days usually consist of leftovers and usually they are not eaten in moderation so with the combination of the food being higher calorie and consumed heavily, people gain significant amounts of weight within a short period of time.  Nobody wants that and it is unhealthy.  That is always my biggest point - health, not vanity.  So Christmas portions should be moderated to avoid weight gain.

The plan of action for today:

1.  KNOW YOUR LIMITS and plan for success.  Accept the fact that there will be scrumptious things but we don't need to gobble it ALL.

2.  Start with a light breakfast - I recommend getting in some veggies during this meal.  If your family celebrates in the evening then  have a light lunch too.  When eating appetizers, those should be light too and stick with veggie items.  For example, we have asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and even though the prosciutto is fatty, the asparagus is not.  That is a better choice than cheese and crackers.

3.  Drink water all day- this helps the brain know you are full prior to being overfull.  Especially be sure to drink a full glass prior to your meal.  This will also help reduce bloating due to excessive sodium.  Most holiday meals have higher doses of salt and this leads to bloating -and other health issues and water helps flush that.  Besides, most of us do not drink enough water anyway.

4.  Workout.  The day(s) of your big meal you should workout.  My personal preference is to workout vigorously to combat any extra calories consumed during my Christmas meal.  It would also be good to workout the day before and after.  The extra calories gotta go somewhere and if you don't burn 'em off, then you probably know exactly where they will go!  If you do not normally workout, you should try going for a walk or doing some jumping jacks, jump rope or any small activity to boost your metabolism.

Here is a great example of getting in a workout at home:

5.  Incorporate veggies and eat that first.  Most holiday meals consist of a lot of rich foods and many are high in carbs.  Most people opt for these yummy choices because they are exactly that- yummy.  Note to self:  high carb foods ALWAYS contain high calories too.  If your family does a salad, have a small serving of that with light dressing.  If you do not have salads then eat the green beans, asparagus or whatever you have and be sure to eat that first.  Pick the non-starchy over the starchy, if available.  This will help you consume less total calories because you will begin to fill your belly with that first.

6.  Pick out your favorites and have those.  There is no need to put everything on your plate.  There will always be another time that you can eat the other things.  The more food on your plate, the more you will likely eat.  If there is less food on your plate then you are already ahead of the game.

7.  Use a salad plate so your plate appears full.  If  you use a bigger plate it will be too full- too much food.  Your brain plays a huge role in satisfaction.  If your plate appears full, your brain will signal your stomach that you are satisfied.  Psychology with our Christmas portions to avoid weight gain!

8.  Put a small serving of any item, even your favs, on your plate.  By small serving, I mean use a tablespoon instead of a regular serving spoon.  It will probably appear laughable on your plate but if you are like me, you like 2nds.  This way when you go for seconds you won't already be over-stuffed.  (probably just slightly stuffed)

9.  If you go back for seconds, make that smaller than your first plate and avoid going back after that.  This is going to take a lot of will power, I know, but you will be thankful!!  I promise.  You will still get the taste of your favorites and you will be more comfortable than usual - meaning your stomach won't be hurting as bad.  Plus there will be less calories consumed ;)

10.  Know when your cheats will be.  Avoid eating all the goodies the rest of the month.  Remember, New Year's Eve is coming and there will likely be some form of food, treat or even alcohol.

It seems like holiday weight gain is inevitable but the reality is that we think that way because of programming.  Our own programming and we just need to think a little bit differently by using smart tips to helps us out.  Back in the 1800s we were farmers and grew our own foods so people worked in the field and did a lot of manual labor.  Food was not abundant, except for with the wealthy, which meant people were not overweight.  Sometimes there was not enough food so sometimes people were malnourished.

Today we struggle with obesity because of a variety of things.  Less physical activity, abundance of food and an overall excess in unhealthy choices.  Which, I might add, usually appeal more to us.  I know that holiday weight gain is a reality and it is difficult with so much delicious food.  I hope this blog will help avoid holiday weight gain and at the very least, reduce excessive holiday weight gain!!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to those who celebrate something other than Christmas!!

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