How to avoid excessive calories over the holiday season

Healthy holiday meals

With the holiday season quickly approaching, we all know that most of us will be letting our guard down and increasing our consumption of food and drink. According to the Calorie Control Council in the USA, the average American consumes as much as 4500 calories on their Thanksgiving holiday. This is equivalent to about seven Burger King Whopper burgers.

Even for those of us who exercise on a regular basis and follow a healthy fitness and nutrition regimen, this kind of overeating might seem harmless. However, when you factor in all the leftovers, alcohol consumption and other holidays ahead, that waistline might increase quicker than you think.

For those us that have practically have no fitness regime or do the minimum amount, here are a few tips to help maintain that waistline and avoid the tight-pants syndrome.

Make sure you get enough sleep – This might seem a little weird but make sure you get between seven and eight hours sleep per night. Studies have shown that sleep helps to maintain our hormone levels and control our hunger and fullness. Deprived sleep increases the chance of overeating, increased craving for carb-rich food, and late night snacks.

Never arrive at a meal hungry – If you have been invited out for Christmas dinner, make sure that you do not arrive on an empty stomach. It is best to have a light meal earlier in the day and include protein and healthy fat to avoid that hunger feeling and avoid overindulging. IF by chance you do arrive on an empty stomach, head straight to the veggie platter and salad bar to curb that hungry feeling. Avoid dressing and dips, or limit the quantities.

Keep those vegetables simple – If you are cooking a meal, try avoid using those candied or butter-laden vegetables. Rather prepare roasted cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, steamed broccoli and green beans without all the butter and excessive oils.

Watch your alcohol and liquid calories – Avoid all those sugary beverages and excessive alcohol consumption. Not only will this reduce your calorie count but also avoid drinking and driving. Sugary drinks and alcohol does not help to avoid that hungry feeling but may actually exacerbate hunger. Most of the time that hungry feeling is your body telling you that you need to drink water. It is recommended to drink about eight glasses of water a day.

You are not feeding an army – If you are the host, remember that you will not be judged on the success of your meal by the amount of leftovers. Make single meal dishes and give them to your guests to the home. Not only will this help you but it will also help your guests and void them having to cook a meal the next day.

Reduce your plate size and follow the 50/25/25 rule – The biggest culprit of weight gain over the holiday season is due to the huge portions we eat and excessive alcohol consumption. However, even if you do increase your food quantity and portions, you can still choose smarter to reduce calories. It is recommended to divide your plate in half, dedication 50% to fruits and vegetables, 25% for protein, and the remaining 25% for grains. This way you can cut back on the bigger culprits to holiday weight gain.

Focus on the social gathering – It is a given that meals are a large part of the holiday season, but enjoying the time with family and friends can be nice distraction from overeating. Avoid temptations and keep a safe distance from those chips and dips.

Avoid the holiday stress and emotions – Holiday and family gathering can be very stressful for some and overeating can be an easy way out. Avoid spending time with those stress induced people. Perhaps offer to help the host to prepare food or the table. Family reunions can be fertile ground for uncomfortable topic, so be prepared with conversation points, preferably with some added humor to change the subject. Not only will this help you but other around you.

Exercise, exercise, exercise – For those of us that follow a minimum fitness program, it is a good idea to plan on making one of your new year resolutions to start some sort of fitness program and eating plan. If possible, instead of driving to your host for a meal, rather take a walk.

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