Sweet Delights & Comfort Foods – How to Indulge and Avoid the Holiday Weight Gain

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We are a good solid month into holiday season.

Holiday goodies such as cookies, candy, fruit cake, pies galore

Holiday comfort foods such as dressing, casseroles, mac-n-cheese, fried turkey, ham galore

Holiday spirits – stay tuned for next week’s blog post

Many of us start stocking up and eating on the holiday treats as they appear on the shelf in November.

Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Hmmm, any changes you need to do for Christmas?

The bottom line is, the holiday season is all about celebrating, togetherness, and indulging – in moderation. These 7 tips on eating are guaranteed to help you avoid weight gain!

(Holiday Survival Tips #1 ) Ditch added sugar

Holiday cookies, cakes, and pies are nothing short of tempting, but all that added sugar may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Stick to sugar that comes in its natural form (fruits, veggies, and whole grains) and try small tastes of the desserts you’re truly craving rather than loading up a full plate of bland cookies

 

(Holiday Survival Tips #2 ) Eat and chew slowly

Eating slowly may not be easy when appetizer options are endless, but it pays off to pace yourself. The quicker we eat, the less time the body has to register fullness. Eating slowly increases the after meal (postprandial) response of gut hormones (peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1) that regulate  having a loss of appetite.

Eating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women.

 

(Holiday Survival Tips #3 )  Wait before grabbing seconds

Like we’ve mentioned, the quicker we eat a meal, the less time we give our bodies to register fullness.  It really does take about 20 minutes for the brain to get the message that dinner’s (or any meal) been served, it’s best to go for a walk or chat with friends before dishing up seconds.

 

(Holiday Survival Tips #4 ) Just say no

Though your relatives may encourage overeating by shoving seconds onto a cleaned plate, it’s OK to respectfully decline. Saying, “I’m full” or “I’m taking a break” should be enough for friends and family members to back off (and give you time to decide if you’d really like more).

 

(Holiday Survival Tips #5 ) Cave in to cravings

It’s smart to acknowledge a few cravings instead of pushing them away completely. Caving to a craving—as long as it’s in moderation—can curb the desire to go at it like a kid in a candy store. Forbidding a specific food or food group during the holiday season may only make it more attractive. Still want more of that apple pie after a couple of bites? Try redirecting yourself to thinking of your favorite holiday activity, like opening presents, watching Christmas movies, or playing in the snow. Research shows that daydreaming about pleasant activities or distracting yourself with just about any activity can reduce the intensity of food cravings.

(Holiday Survival Tips #6 ) Fill up on Fiber

Snacking on vegetables and other high-fiber items like legumes can help keep us fuller, longer  – and still have room for dessert. Snack on fiber rich foods leading up to the main event is an excellent way to avoid overrating.  Give the vegetable platter a second chance with a healthy, tasty dip.

 

(Holiday Survival Tips #7 ) Take it easy on the white stuff

This tip works in sync with #6.  Simple carbs are often the white stuff—white bread and refined sugars (like those in soda and candy). These foods provide energy, but often lack the same nutrients as complex carbohydrates (which are found in starchy foods, such as legumes, potatoes, corn, and whole grains).

While some simple carbs are good for us (a.k.a the kind found in fruit and low fat dairy products), in general, the body breaks down simple carbs more quickly than the complex kind, which creates a spike in blood sugar (insulin) that can leave us feeling hungrier, faster.  Have a few  whole grains dishes on the menu (whole-grain bread, brown rice, or quinoa) to help get nutrients in the body along with the holiday favorite that are likely less nutritious.

 

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