Holiday Maintenance by Debbie Rosas

Medical Notice: Before beginning any exercise or dietary program, consult your physician! Always remember to adjust your exercise or diet if you feel out of breath, dizzy, or unable to perform your daily activities in a balanced way. Change gradually and monitor yourself on a moment to moment basis. Give yourself time to create changes. Respect the fact that you may have been sedentary and eating a certain diet for a while.

If you’re like me it's easy to feel overwhelmed about food during the holiday season. What’s helped me stay healthy and well is making some smart choices. I will say diets per se don't work, healthy movement and exercise, and eating properly for YOUR body and life does work.

I found by making some simple eating choices and lifestyle changes I have been able to avoid the often 5-7 pound holiday weight gain that comes from having more fun than I needed! For me, the only guaranteed strategy for controlling excess weight gain over the holiday season is to eat nutritionally, eat when I am truly hungry, and combine regular exercise with what I put in my mouth. Sounds easy, but for many of us holiday stress, added responsibility, life’s demands, and feeling like I have less time for me leads to anxiety, over-eating, under resting, fatigue, and excess weight gain.

NIA Holiday Tips

While I have many tips for sustaining my health and wellbeing over the holidays, here are some of my favorites.

1. Eat smaller meals more often during a busy schedule. Eating smaller meals more often makes food easier to digest, sustains your blood-sugar levels, moderates feelings of hunger, helps to maintain your energy level, and uses and metabolizes food more quickly after each meal. 

2. Use a salad plate in place of a dinner plate and when eating out choose dishes off of the side menu. I find my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and by controlling portions I end up feeling better and having more energy. 

3. Never go to a party hungry and avoid eating big meals after six o'clock in the evening. You’ll have more energy for late-night gatherings and sleep better.

4. Drink water before eating. If you drink a big glass of water before you sit down to eat, you’ll feel fuller and won’t be tempted to eat as much.

5. Drink water before eating. Drinking a big glass of water before you eat ads to feeling fuller.

6. Every day create time to work out with NiaTV and let go of time. Moving for as little as five-minutes will list your mood, keep your bones, joints and soft tissues responsive, help you avoid lethargy and even dull hunger pangs. 

7. Be mindful of the quantity and cut down on alcoholic consumption. George Koob, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says, “There's a huge upswing in binge drinking, and it's a problem, and over the holidays we often drink alcohol in things like eggnog, so we don't even notice the alcohol.”

8. Eat smart and stay away from foods high in saturated fats. How do you know things are saturated fats? At room temperature, they’re generally solid. Replacing foods high in saturated fat with healthier options can lower your blood cholesterol levels.

9. Avoid salty and canned foods. Packaged and canned foods are loaded with salt. It’s estimated that at least half of people with hypertension have blood pressure affected by sodium consumption. This means they’re salt sensitive and salt sensitivity increases with age. 

10. Wait ten minutes in between helpings. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s full. After waiting you might find you’re no longer hungry.

11. Choose high fiber and vegetable choices. Perfect for maintaining health and optimal weight, these non-meat choices good for you include cauliflower, brussels sprouts, acorn squash, pomegranate, collard greens, yams, butternut squash, green beans, cranberries, mushrooms, and pumpkin.

12. Eat what you can hold in your hand. This is a great portion control tip. The size of a serving of meat and nuts should fit into the size of the palm of your hand, minus your fingers. Vegies can fit into two hands. 

13. Have a sweet tooth? Choose fruit and other sources as a sugar alternative. Figs and dates provide minerals such as calcium and iron and if you enjoy bananas they’ll provide you with fiber and potassium.