Seven Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season! Toward that end, this month we’ll discuss seven of my favorite tips for avoiding holiday weight gain.

  1. Focus on fellowship. This season is meant to be celebrated with friends and family. Don’t hover around the food table or the bar when you are at holiday gatherings. Instead, devote your attention to conversation and relationships. Ten out of 10 experts surveyed confirm that dialogue is calorie-free!

2.Beware of beverages. Consider the many reasons to limit your intake of alcohol. If you drink to the point of being tipsy, you will have less self-control over what you eat. Also, excessive alcohol consumption causes a hormonal response that promotes fat accumulation. If you do choose to indulge in alcohol, you can choose lower-calorie options; for instance, a glass of red wine has about 125 calories as opposed to a cup of alcoholic eggnog, which typically has more than 400 calories. However, if you are driving, please do not even consider drinking; in North Carolina alone, alcohol was responsible for 523 traffic accidents, 182 injuries and 11 deaths during the three 24-hour periods of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in 2013.

Also, from a calorie perspective, watch out for soft drinks! For example, there are 90 calories and 25 grams of sugar in a can of Coke. If you are uncomfortable in a party setting without a drink in your hand, add a lemon or lime twist to a glass of club soda (zero calories and zero grams of sugar!) or ice water.

  1. Power up on protein. Scan the buffet and choose protein options rather than starchy or sugary carb options. Protein is filling and will reduce your cravings for naughtier foods. Also, protein stimulates the release of the hormone glucagon that helps to regulate blood sugar and counters the fat-storage properties of insulin.
  2. Small servings. Portion control is a critical component of weight control. When you go through the buffet line, use a dessert-size plate rather than a dinner plate. Only fill the plate one-story high, no stacking! To find yourself satisfied with less food, put your fork down between bites and chew slowly. Relax, eat at a leisurely pace, and really savor every taste.
  3. Fill up first. Arriving hungry at a holiday party is never a good plan. Hunger decreases the likelihood that you will make wise choices at the buffet and the bar. Before heading out for the party, enjoy a healthy salad and some lean protein at home. Planning ahead in this way will make it much easier to resist the temptations of holiday treats. If showing up hungry is unavoidable, enjoying a tall glass of water before visiting the food table will help to curb your appetite.
  4. Politely pass. Health-conscious guests must learn to deal diplomatically with generous hosts who keep putting food in front of them. Be prepared with a polite response like, “Everything was delicious … I couldn’t eat another bite!” Or make it even easier on yourself by announcing that you’re working on trimming down and getting more fit. Once people know your goals, they will be less likely to keep pushing food toward you. Also, announcing your intentions will create some accountability; you will be reticent to go back for seconds or load up on dessert with a room full of witnesses!
  5. Move more. Instead of bellying up to the bar at the office holiday party, burn some calories; grab a partner and hit the dance floor! Start a new tradition and organize family walks after Thanksgiving dinner before sitting down for dessert or settling in for the football game. Recognize reality; even with good behavior you will probably consume more calories than usual during the holidays. So compensate. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the far end of the parking lot, do jumping jacks during the commercial breaks of your TV program, make an extra trip to the gym, walk or run an extra mile. Whatever you can do to increase your activity level and burn more calories will pay off during this time.

So, there you have it; seven great tips for healthier celebrations. Be safe, have fun and may your holidays be blessed.

Dr. R. Todd Shaver is a chiropractic family physician at Shaver Chiropractic & Natural Medicine. As a distinguished fellow of chiropractic biophysics, Dr. Shaver utilizes spinal adjustment and other chiropractic physical medicine procedures to address injury and pain and to promote wellness. He is Wilmington’s only chiropractic physician to have achieved specialty status (D.I.C.C.P.) in chiropractic pediatrics and prenatal care. To learn more, go to www.shavernaturalmedicine.com, call 910-452-5555, or contact his office at staff@doctorshaver.com.