The holidays are exciting, but in between those social get-togethers and yummy treats, it’s also a time when many people put on extra weight. Many people are unaware that between November and January adults gain an average of one pound. Even though this may not seem like a lot of weight, it's still alarming that people are likely to gain weight during the holidays as opposed to losing it. Unfortunately, this weight gain contributes to the yearly weight gain for all people, which is another reason why it’s essential to be mindful about food decisions. In a society that’s making unhealthy choices, we not only want to offer tips to help you avoid gaining weight during the holidays but practice healthy decision making going forward. The Body Reboot book discusses how important your health is and how a high fat, low carb diet can help you reach your health goals. Below are 6 tips to help you avoid weight gain during the holidays and beyond.
Get Enough Rest
Are you getting enough sleep? We’ve said it before, and we’re repeating it – if you’re tired and aren’t sleeping enough, you’re more likely to make adverse food decisions. We have to admit that getting adequate sleep during the holidays is challenging, but it’s still necessary. Make sure your body is getting sufficient rest so you not only can say no to unhealthy holiday foods but make healthier eating decisions going forward. Check out what the 2013 Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care study says about how much sleep plays a part in our food choices, ultimately resulting in obesity or a healthier lifestyle.
Purpose of review
This review summarizes the most recent evidence linking decreased sleep duration and poor sleep quality to obesity, focusing upon studies in adults.
Published and unpublished health examination surveys and epidemiological studies suggest that the worldwide prevalence of obesity has doubled since 1980. In 2008, 1 in 10 adults was obese, with women more likely to be obese than men. This obesity epidemic has been paralleled by a trend of reduced sleep duration. Poor sleep quality, which leads to overall sleep loss has also become a frequent complaint. Growing evidence from both laboratory and epidemiological studies points to short sleep duration and poor sleep quality as new risk factors for the development of obesity.
Sleep is an important modulator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism and sleep loss has been shown to result in metabolic and endocrine alterations, including decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased levels of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin, and increased hunger and appetite. Recent epidemiological and laboratory evidence confirm previous findings of an association between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity.
Stay Active With Friends and Family
One of the first things you can do to prevent weight gain during the holidays is staying active with friends and family. Examples include going on long walks, going on a hike, or even hitting the gym together.
Sedentary activities, such as sitting on the couch watching sports, are common holiday traditions for many families.
Inactivity may contribute to weight gain, especially when lounging around is accompanied by eating excessive amounts of food.
Doing some type of physical activity while on holiday with your family may prove to be beneficial for weight control.
An activity as simple as a family walk can provide benefits, as it will get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones.
You can also be active during the holidays by signing up for a workplace or community fitness competition or event. Running races are popular options.
Watch Your Portion Sizes
Educate yourself on what the appropriate portion sizes are and how to accurately measure your food. Being aware of your portion sizes should hopefully help you gauge how much you should be eating. VeryWell Fit recommends investing in an inexpensive kitchen scale and other measuring supplies to help you measure out various meals at home.
Become familiar with serving sizes for the foods you eat every day. Packaged foods always show the serving size information on the Nutrient Facts labels, usually in ounces or in common kitchen measurements. You can also use an inexpensive kitchen scale, along with a few measuring cups and measuring spoons to measure your portions of foods at home until you feel comfortable estimating serving sizes without them.
Foods like meats and fresh produce may not have Nutrient Facts labels, so you need to know that one serving of meat, poultry or fish is generally three ounces (about the size of a deck of cards).
One serving of fruit or vegetable is usually one piece of the produce; one cup chopped or sliced fruit or vegetable; or 3/4 cup of juice.
A serving of cheese is one and one-half ounces, which is the size of a pair of dice.
Once you get comfortable with understanding serving sizes, you can use that information to track your calories accurately in a food diary or on a diet website.
Practice Mindful Eating
In 2013 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition did a study on how our minds play a part in how much food we eat. They discovered that applying attentive eating habits can significantly improve your chances of making healthier decisions and losing weight.
Cognitive processes such as attention and memory may influence food intake, but the degree to which they do is unclear.
The objective was to examine whether such cognitive processes influence the amount of food eaten either immediately or in subsequent meals.
We systematically reviewed studies that examined experimentally the effect that manipulating memory, distraction, awareness, or attention has on food intake. We combined studies by using inverse variance meta-analysis, calculating the standardized mean difference (SMD) in food intake between experimental and control groups and assessing heterogeneity with the I(2) statistic.
Twenty-four studies were reviewed. Evidence indicated that eating when distracted produced a moderate increase in immediate intake (SMD: 0.39; 95% CI: 0.25, 0.53) but increased later intake to a greater extent (SMD: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.45, 1.07). The effect of distraction on immediate intake appeared to be independent of dietary restraint. Enhancing memory of food consumed reduced later intake (SMD: 0.40; 95% CI: 0.12, 0.68), but this effect may depend on the degree of the participants' tendencies toward disinhibited eating. Removing visual information about the amount of food eaten during a meal increased immediate intake (SMD: 0.48; 95% CI: 0.27, 0.68). Enhancing awareness of food being eaten may not affect immediate intake (SMD: 0.09; 95% CI: -0.42, 0.35).
Evidence indicates that attentive eating is likely to influence food intake, and incorporation of attentive-eating principles into interventions provides a novel approach to aid weight loss and maintenance without the need for conscious calorie counting.
Be Smart When Snacking
Being smart about snacking may sound like an oxymoron, but if you make wise decisions when a snack attack strikes you’ll be less likely to gain weight. Here’s what Mind Body Green recommends snacking less and watching your meal size.
Grazing is not the same as snacking all day. Grazing means splitting your good-food meals into smaller servings. Daylong snacking is having several snacks in addition to regular sized meals. Neither approach is ideal, since our digestive system and blood sugar balance thrive when we fast between meals. It's best to give your stomach time to empty before eating, so a snack is just to hold you over!
Don’t Get Stressed Out
The holidays can cause a lot of stress which means you’re more likely to turn to food to help you feel better. Instead of making unhealthy diet decisions, however, Healthline recommends keeping your stress levels down by doing the following:
Keeping up with the demands of the holidays can be stressful.
Those who are stressed commonly have high levels of cortisol, a hormone that's released in response to stress. Chronically high cortisol levels may cause weight gain, as they have been linked to greater food intake.
Additionally, a stressful lifestyle may cause more cravings for junk food.
For these reasons, it's important to keep stress levels under control throughout the entire year, but especially during the holidays when you might be plagued with more tasks and surrounded by unhealthy foods.
There are plenty of things you can do during the holidays to reduce stress. Some options include exercise, meditation, yoga and deep breathing.
Trying hard not to gain weight during the holidays may seem like an unrealistic goal, but after you get used to saying no to unhealthy desserts, you may find it’s easy sticking to your diet. The keto diet is a high fat, low carb diet that is helping many people lose weight during the holiday season and beyond. At the time of writing this post, we're giving away free copies of the Body Reboot book. If you help us cover the cost of shipping, we’ll send you a FREE book. Go over to this page to see if there are any remaining copies.
Sources: Mind Body Green, Healthline, Harvard Health, VeryWell Fit, NCBI: Am J Clin Nutr. 2013, Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2013
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