‘Tis the season of overdulgence – the time of year where we throw our healthy diet plans out of the festive window in favor of an annual gorge-fest, leading to almost irreparable damage to our waistlines that our New Year fitness resolutions (which few rarely keep) cannot fix.
Researchers have been estimated that the average American gains about a pound each holiday season, and the scary part is: Those extra kilos have a tendency to stick around…which means you may be 10 pounds heavier in 10 years! Not to forget, in the short term, all that sugar, sodium and alcohol tend to make for an extra wrinkle, puff and dull skin for the New Year.
The good news is – you don’t have to ditch the tantalizing festive treats. You can survive this feasting season with these four easy tactics!
GET PARTY PREPPED
Contrary to popular belief, now is not a good time for a juice fast or tacking on extra intensive cardio sessions to make up for all the extra calories you’re about to scarf. Starving yourself can cause your metabolism to stall, and often leads to a rebound binge. And although regular sweat-outs are great for maintaining your health and figure and reducing stress over the long term, a study found intense workouts may actually increase cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Hence, you get rapid blood sugar level spikes to fuel the “fight or flight” response and may end up feeling more stressed out.
Get your metabolic engine running by eating clean and working out smart for your pre-holiday detox instead. Start by keeping to your moderate cardio three to four times a week. Add a more low-impact activity, like say yoga, to stoke the fat-torching flames even more and help you breeze through the festive insanity.
Read More: Eat to Lose Weight – Foods that Burn Fat
EXERCISE PORTION CONTROL
Enjoy the good company, and gobble without the wobble with clever portion control. Aim to end up feeling comfortably filled and content right from the beginning. And remember to fill up your plate with foods you truly love, instead of piling your plate mindlessly for later selection – most of us tend to finish the excess food placed on our plates unwittingly, only to end up feeling painfully bloated and guilty later.
Follow this portion guide to determine roughly 200 cal helpings of your favourite festive foods, and building up your meal to a total of about 1000 cal. Save the mindless stuffing for the turkey!
MAKE SIMPLE SKINNY CHOICES
Simply swapping fatty foods for low-fat alternatives where possible will keep you skinny – and now there’s massive World Health Organisation-backed research to prove it. A recent review of 33 trials involving 73,589 men, women and children in America, Europe and New Zealand found that cutting total fat intake consistently helped people lose around 3.5 pounds, slim their waist-lines about 0.5 cm and cut bad cholesterol – all without dieting.
Instead of depriving yourself of the lean beef roast, for example, forgo the french fries and crisps. Opt for a glass of celebratory antioxidant-rich red wine over the eggnog, and watch out for the innocent-looking sauces (it’s easy to be mid-conversation and dip a carrot into truckloads of fat-filled dips).
LOVE WHAT YOU EAT
Set your fork down between bites – savor the flavors, immense yourself in the ambience, and divert your focus onto your friends and conversation – to fully appreciate your food and enjoy the party. Loading up your fork while still chewing will place your attention on the next bite of food instead of the one you’re eating, and you won’t stop until there are no more forkfuls.
Try out these simple tips. You will probably not only be safe from the holiday ham hangover – they will most likely allow you to enjoy eating and stay slim happily ever after.
– By Claudia Lin
*This article has been selected Article of the Month for Dec 2012*