The holidays are a time to spend time with loved ones that often includes indulging in more food and drink. The average adult gains 1lb during the holidays and most do not loose that weight after. It doesn’t sound like a lot but that 10lbs that crept up in the last decade can be from the indulging in too much holiday sugary or alcoholic drinks and rich foods. Those who regularly exercised during the holidays showed the least weight gain and some lost weight.
Here are some tips to keep your health and weight optimal during the holidays and throughout the year.
Don’t drink your calories: Sugary drinks are the biggest source of sugar calories in our diet. Sugar calories made up 21.4 per cent of the average Canadian’s total calorie intake. Each teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams. The World Health Organization recommends limiting sugar to 6-7 tsp per day.
Here are some holiday sugar bombs to stay clear of or get the smallest size.
Grande Eggnog Latte has 460 calories and 48 grams of sugar
Grande Peppermint Mocha has 420 calories and 54 grams of sugar, more than double the recommended sugar intake for the entire day.
A large Tim Hortons Candy Cane Dark Hot Chocolate has 470 calories and 69 grams of sugar. Even a small regular hot chocolate has 38 grams of sugar, more than your entire recommended daily intake.
Fill at least half your plate with non-starchy vegetables: At the party if you fill half your plate with raw or steamed veggies and limit high fat dips (a restaurant serving of spinach and artichoke dip has about 1,6000 calories, 100 grams of fat and 2,500mg sodium) than you won’t fill up on just high calorie, white flour, fatty and sugary foods.
Add a serving of lean protein such as grass fed meat, whole organic eggs, wild salmon, hemp, beans or lentils.
Before you attend the party eat a big salad or plate of steamed green vegetables with a serving of lean protein so you will not go starving and fill up on too many treats. The fiber from the vegetables and the protein will help fill you up and blunt some of the negative insulin affects of the sugary treats and drinks.
Chew all your food to a paste: When indulging in holiday treats make sure you enjoy them. Often people wolf down an entire plate of food and didn’t really enjoy it. It takes 20mins for the stretch receptors in the stomach to signal the brain that it is full. That is one of the reasons why after eating quickly you can’t believe how painful your stomach is from overeating.
Get some exercise: Instead of planning social events around food, organize a snowshoe walk, tobogganing, skiing or ice skate as a family and friends get together.
Regular exercise will help maintain stress levels and help with getting a restful sleep.
Get enough sleep: When you are tired you tend to overeat and confuse fatigue with hunger. In a study sleep was reduced from 8.5 hours of sleep to 4.5 hours. After four nights of less sleep, their fat cells were less sensitive to insulin, a metabolic change associated with both diabetes and obesity.
Ann Intern Med. 2012;157(8):549-557.
Article written by:
Dr. Stella Seto
Naturopathic Physician at Balance Medical Center