Holiday Health Tips
Dr. Keith Kantor
Staying fit during the holidays can be a challenge due to excessive amounts of rich foods and an overbooked schedule full of parties, not allowing enough time to exercise. We can avoid the holiday weight creep by staying active and being mindful with our nutrition. Most of those who give into the holiday season heavy treats and lack of activity will gain what we call the “seasonal 7 pounds” between November 1st and New Year’s Day. There is an abundance of unhealthy foods, loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats along with our schedules being booked with school activities, parties, shopping, and exercise drops down on the priority list. Avoid the seasonal 7 pounds by following the simple strategies listed below.
- Also, try to stick to balanced meals consisting of protein, non-starchy vegetables and heart healthy fats. Avoid the “counting calorie trap”, don’t substitute a cookie for a healthy salad because they are equal in calories. Just because foods are equal in calories does not mean your metabolism will process the foods the same. You may develop a sugar addiction and suffer from insulin spikes and drops causing you to crave more sugar than normal, resulting in unwanted weight gain. Getting adequate protein, healthy fats and at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, with an occasional holiday treat, will ensure your metabolism does not get damaged.
- All foods can be modified into a healthier version. A healthy version of a holiday meal includes protein, a complex carbohydrate like sweet potatoes and of course vegetables. Try to use real unprocessed ingredients, avoid refined flours and white sugar. If you are into baking sweet holiday treats, opt for healthier versions of your favorite recipes. There are several recipes that use almond flour, coconut oil, dark chocolate chips, etc. instead of the traditional fattening ingredients.
- If your family wants you to cook the traditional recipes, then try to give away the remaining leftovers so you will not be eating heavy foods several days after the meal, this will cause unwanted weight gain, whereas one “off” meal will not.
- Focus on protein, healthy fats and vegetables. Load your plate with protein (turkey, ham, roast, etc.), and non-starchy vegetables like greens beans, greens, carrots, broccoli, etc. and leave only a 1/4 of your plate for the starchy vegetables like potatoes, or other starches like bread or stuffing. This will bring the overall calories down for the meal and maintain steady blood sugars.
- Share dessert or get small portions of what is offered. It is easy to overeat all of the seasonal treats, take small portions to taste and try not to binge.
- Go for the low sugar cocktails or alcoholic beverages and alternate them with a glass of water is possible. Wine and light beer is lower in calories compared to some of the sugary holiday mixed drinks. If you do drink mixers, go for a low or no calorie mixer like sparkling water, fresh lime juice, or a stevia based non-calorie soda.
- Drink plenty of water all of the time. Water is your body’s main nutrient. It naturally suppresses your appetite and transports necessary nutrients to your cells. If you are not drinking at least ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day, you are not adequately hydrated. This could lead to poor energy, weight gain, and headaches. Avoid artificially sweetened water, if you want to add some flavor try fresh lemon, lime, strawberries, or oranges. A Hydroxide rich water is best (Aqua OH! -www.aqua-oh.com) is a better water that will effortlessly reduce acidity, which causes acidosis, which causes inflammation. Inflammation causes the insulin mechanism to work poorly, which will cause sugar cravings and weight gain.