Staying Healthy During the Holidays
If you listen to talk around the office, you might hear that the average person gains about five pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most people don’t lose the weight they put on during the holidays, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine. Since the average weight gain during adulthood is about one to two pounds a year, that means much of midlife weight gain can be explained by holiday eating. This is known as “creeping obesity,” and unless you can avoid holiday weight gain, you will find it difficult to avoid the creep.
Five strategies to maintain your health and weight through the holidays
Before going shopping, whether for food or for gifts, eat a good meal and bring a bag of healthy snacks for you and your family, like nuts, beef jerky, hardboiled eggs, or apple slices. With long lines, parking lot congestion, and travel time, it’s very easy for low blood sugar to trigger a trip to the drive- thru and some decidedly unhealthy choices.
Commit to and schedule exercise each and every day, even a brisk walk on Christmas morning, using whatever tool you use to schedule your important events/meetings. If it’s not scheduled, it won’t happen, especially with relatives, family and holiday events.
Create a food plan and stick to it for parties, family gatherings, potlucks and church events. Your plan might look like: sticking with the veggie tray for appetizers; carrying one drink for the entire evening; eating the protein and vegetables while skipping the potatoes and bread; and having a sliver of dessert or splitting it with someone special.
Stick with one or no alcoholic drinks. Not only is alcohol a significant source of calories (seven calories per gram) plus all the high- calorie and high-sugar mixers, but alcohol may inhibit your better judgment, leading to less healthy and higher calories choices for the rest of your meal. Even if you had a “food party plan” for making healthy choices, it may evaporate after a few drinks.
Stress can be a major part of the holidays, and financial stress usually tops the list. To combat financial stress, plan ahead, create a holiday budget for presents, travel and food, and stick to it. A slightly leaner holiday is far less stressful than paying back debt for the next six months!
Practice mindful eating over the holidays
When you pay attention to what you’re eating, you can make small changes that make a big difference. Here are some tips for a more mindful approach:
• Control portions. Especially during the holidays, know that you’ll have more opportunities to eat festive snacks and desserts. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just eat smaller portions and less often.
• Eat when you’re hungry. Just because the clock says noon doesn’t mean you have to eat. If you’re not hungry, wait until you are – just don’t wait until you’re famished because you might overeat. Also, don’t eat just because the food is available. Learn more about why you might be eating when not hungry.
• Slow down. Enjoy each bite and put your fork down while chewing, then take a drink between each bite. This gives your body enough time to trigger your brain that you are satisfied (not necessarily full).
• Pay attention. Do not eat in front of the TV or computer, or while standing in the kitchen or talking on the phone. When you do these things, you’re more likely to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
• Use technology. As we continue to become increasingly distracted by modern technology, our focus on health can fall to the back burner. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Use devices or phone apps that that manage food records, count calories, help you track what you eat and provide guidance on healthy food choices at the grocery store and restaurants.
• Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat, look at it, then identify why you ate it – was it hunger, stress, boredom? Then look for areas you can make adjustments and incorporate healthy changes.
Focus on fitness
Committing to stay healthy throughout the holiday season is the first step, but to make your commitment a reality,you need to follow through and even up the ante in some cases. Pick and choose from these options to make this holiday season your healthiest yet:
Sign up for a holiday fitness competition. Most gyms offer fitness competitions for members to help encourage healthy habits during the holiday season. Rather than New Year’s-style weight-loss competitions, holiday competitions generally focuson accumulating total activity. So if you plan to work out on a regular basis and need a little extra motivation to follow through, sign up to participate in your gym’s competition.
Participate in a holiday fitness event. Check local event listings to find fitness events in your area. If you sign up for an event, chances are you’ll follow through on the necessary training. If you have children, look for events with a family friendly focus and get the entire gang involved.
Start and end each day strong. Give yourself enough time each morning to cycle through a quick ten-minute resistance-training circuit and then spend ten minutes at night performing some type of cardio. While 20 minutes of exercise a day doesn’t meet the American College of Sports Medicine’s physical activity guidelines, it sets you on the right track and gets you moving.
While this is not the normal type of blog you see from Access, Inc., is does discuss “powering up“ (eating) and “thermal control” (exercise). We hope this provides you ‘food for thought‘ as you head into the holidays.
Thank You to “Health and Wellness News You Can Use – November Issue” as provided by Associated Benefits and Risk Consulting