Helpful Solutions to Common Holiday Weight Gain Behavior Problems
Many people experience a feeling of sluggishness during the holiday season, and activity status is often replaced with stress, sedentary behaviors and high caloric intake. There is no doubt participation frequency and total training volume decrease over the Holidays. The fitness centers are still open but people’s routines are altered and regular workouts often take a backseat to holiday events, planning, and shopping.
Set a very specific regimen around the Holiday season. Everything seems to be important and time seems to be even more of a premium than usual. The reality is this is mostly perception. If possible, make exercise or physical activity your #1 priority. Start a morning regimen to ensure activity is completed on the scheduled days. Planning your physical activity for the afternoon and evening increases the likelihood of a missed session as many other activities or events will pop up throughout the day. Make a commitment to complete the physical activity before anything else – you’ll find everything else still gets done. Adding physical activity into event planning also helps with caloric balance. Plan to play a game that requires physical exertion; be sure to have it set up ahead of time and make sure it’s easy to implement. Just before a meal reduces the endocrine impact and helps with metabolic controls.
The seemingly constant availability of high sugar and high fat foods everywhere you go over the next five weeks. Unlike a well-balanced meal, comfort foods throw off caloric norms and can disrupt metabolic hormones. Not paying particular attention to composition of the foods consumed during this Holiday season can promote increased lipid production and even contribute to greater food intake.
Make a concerted effort to minimize (not necessarily eliminate) large quantities of sugar and processed carbohydrates. Oftentimes the fat in food is perceived as the bad guy when in reality the foods high in sugar create high glycemic loads and promote fat production and storage in response to higher levels of circulating insulin. Attempt to balance intakes with protein and add healthy fats to the diet whenever possible.
Too many calories are consumed each day. When adding new eating behaviors that are typical of the holiday season (functions at work, family gatherings, candy and cookies around the office and/or at home) on top of regular eating patterns, the result is almost always a positive caloric balance.
Eat very healthy foods the days leading up to a particular holiday, family, or work gathering. Make it a policy to consume five or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables along with lean proteins such as egg whites for breakfast. This will help reduce total calories and limit the consumption of unhealthier foods you will be tempted with during evening events. You’ll feel fuller and therefore will be less likely to over consume at the social gathering.
Small portions of everything that’s available add up to big numbers. All too often when presented with buffet style options over the holidays, we serve ourselves to the point that food actually piles up or we need a second plate. Although you may only be taking one scoop of stuffing, or one roll, or one helping of meatballs, etc. the fact that so many choices are available and you would like to try each one, almost ensures overeating.
Simply control your portion size. The first step is not filling your entire plate. Or better yet, use the smallest plate available. Doing so will limit how much you eat after the first pass at all the tempting options that are available. You can always return for another helping, if necessary. Most people take too much initially, attain a feeling of fullness, but continue to finish the food so as not to waste it.
Desserts all look so good and self-control is difficult for most people. The same problem with portion control exists as noted in #4 and most often too many calories have already been consumed in the appetizers and the main course.
The restaurant shot glass serving style is a great way to present dessert options. It automatically accounts for portion control because the glasses are generally small. It also avoids the leftovers phenomenon, where people continue to eat until the whole dish is gone.