With the New Year only weeks away, are you starting to ponder your resolutions? If improving your health and waistline is on your list, then set yourself up for success! Give yourself a solid start by considering how and what you eat this holiday season with these tips and tricks. Don't miss tip #6 with some great swaps for hidden sources of sugar.
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Tis the season for indulgent eating.
It is not uncommon for the season of holiday meals to translate to 1-2 pounds of weight gain by year end. While that may not seem like a lot, it can definitely add up over the years. Over the course of a decade, 10-20 pounds can creep in, increasing your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
The combination of less physical activity, especially when it is cold outside, and higher consumption of foods packed with sugars, sodium and fats, may seem impossible to avoid. Besides an extra pound or two, you may feel extra bloated or sluggish to boot.
Tip #1: Don’t “save room” or skip meals because a big holiday dinner is coming. The exception to this is if you are properly following the principles of Intermittent Fasting. But otherwise, skipping breakfast or lunch has shown to lead to overeating at other meals. Additionally, what you eat for breakfast is super important! It sets up your body for the day by restoring nutrients, your glucose levels and jump starts your metabolism after fasting overnight (because you were hopefully getting some quality zzz’s and not a midnight snack). Eating the right breakfast will give you energy and also help you with cravings and portion control. Consider a breakfast that includes protein, is high in fiber and perhaps fruits that have lower glycemic index fruits.
Example: A small egg white & spinach omelet with a half grapefruit and bowl of steel cut oats topped with raspberries.
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Tip #2: Seek the help of a nutritionist. The amazing news?!?!?! As a VIP member, don’t forget a consultation and unlimited visits with our Registered Dietician are a part of your membership.
What foods are good protein? What is a high fiber diet? Low glycemic index...what?? We totally understand, nutrition is a tricky subject. What foods are healthy, right for your body specifically, and won’t interact with your medications (**for instance large amounts of grapefruit is a no no if on atorvastatin (Lipitor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor) to name a few), can be a lot to navigate on your own. But, a nutritionist or dietician can help make these things really simple and organized for you!
Tip #3: It’s about portion control not deprivation. There are two easy tricks that we find helpful. First, use a smaller plate. By default this will allow less food on the plate but also, your eyes still perceive it as being a full bountiful plate of food. Second, fill half your plate with salad and veggies first before putting a bread roll on or scooping main dishes.
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Tip #4: Stay Hydrated. Did you know that the feeling of thirst is often confused with the feeling of hunger? Many of us don’t drink enough water which is important for the health of many body systems. Dehydration can even cause symptoms like headaches, muscle cramps and fatigue. Drinking enough water can also help you consume less calories because you will feel fuller.
Tip #5: The “I’ll lose it in January” strategy is not reliable. New year’s resolutions often get kicked to the curb. Why? Making big changes all at once can be overwhelming especially if you haven’t prepared for them. Good habits take time to stick, 30 days in fact!, and smaller changes, one at a time, are easier to adapt than an everything all at once approach. For tips on successful weight loss resolutions, read our blog post “The Skinny on Keeping New Year’s Resolutions”.
Additionally, temporarily exercising more to offset increased calorie intake hasn’t really shown to be successful in avoiding the extra weight gain during the holiday season. I’m not saying you should stop exercising though! Exercising has many health benefits in addition to weight loss. A much better strategy is to follow our other tips to avoid holiday pounds.
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Tip #6: Get to know these hidden sources of sugars and their healthier alternatives! What makes holiday food delicious? Fat, Sugar and Salt. Unfortunately, these three things, though delicious, can increase caloric intake lightning fast. Obvious foods to consider strict portion control on are breads, pasta, muffins, dessert items and sugar/dairy laden cocktails. Other food that are less obvious? Check out this list of high sugar foods and healthier swaps:
♦ Granola and Granola Bars have been marketed as a healthy snack option. But they are often packed with sugar. Swap: try a handful of nuts, seeds or muesli.
♦ Flavored Yogurts contain a lot of extra sugar and usually have high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. Swap: give plain greek yogurt a go! Sweeten it up with honey or maple syrup and add a ½ tsp of vanilla extract.
♦ Dried Cranberries are in everything from sauces, to muffins, to salads and desserts. A handful of these little dried fruits can equal as much sugar as a candy bar! Fresh fruits instead of dried or canned are always a better option. Swap: if dried fruit is a must, dried organic cherries are a better option. Cranberries are very tart so much more added sugar is needed to make them taste good and to preserve them.
♦ White Wine may make a better meal pairing with some foods but are also higher in sugar content. Some white wines have a sugar overload like Riesling. Swap: First, let me preface this with a note that alcohol, in general, contributes to weight gain and many other health conditions. If consumed, please do so responsibly and in moderation. Red wines typically have lower sugar content. As some folks have a sensitivity to this, another tip is to pick a red wine that is low in tannins (such as pinot noir). Another interesting swap? Instead of champagne, try Lambrusco.
♦ Salad Dressing Can Destroy a Healthy Salad. Thousand Island, Blue Cheese, Ranch, French and even Raspberry (fruity) Vinaigrettes are drenching your veggies with sugar and fat. Swap: If you are using one of the dressings above, keep in mind the serving size is usually 2 tablespoons or less. A better choice is sticking with olive oil, seasonings, lemon or red, white or balsamic vinegar.
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Tip #7: Get involved in a weight loss program that works! (Your VIP Membership Includes this!!) Knowing what to do, when to do it and having support during the process are important parts of succeeding at weight loss. Even more important, get guidance from doctors that are experts in weight loss medicine and know how to make things work specifically for your body and lifestyle. HealthBridge is the home to Thin Site, a program developed by Dr. David Edelson, one of the nation’s top doctors in Obesity Medicine. Together with Dr. Susan Mirkinson, they represent two of the only 2000 Board Certified Obesity Medicine specialists in the world. They can help remove the barriers to your weight loss by determining why you gained the weight in the first place. Schedule your consultation today and be prepared for the holidays and New Year!