Five Easy Tips for Beating Festive Season Fat Traps – Without Starving Yourself
Remember that delicious excitement we felt as kids just before the end of the year holidays? Unfortunately for many of us it has been replaced by a sense of dread… and not just at the prospect of opening our credit card bill in January!
For some, an even greater fear awaits — the prospect of looking at the bathroom scale after weeks of celebratory eating and drinking.
It is not for nothing that public holidays such as Christmas were once called “holidays”. In the Middle Ages, these festivals were rare islands of indulgence during months of famine.
In developed countries today, the closest we can come to famine is to work through lunch. It can be a struggle keeping our weight under control in the face of daily food temptations. End of year celebrations can tip us over the edge.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five simple tips for beating the fat traps of the holiday season… and the inevitable guilt that follows. You’ll be relieved to hear that none of them involve starvation. In fact, the first tip advises exactly the opposite…
1) Eat a good breakfast
This may seem counterproductive, but this advice applies to everyday life, so why switch over the holidays? Many people sleep in during the holidays and skip breakfast. By the time lunch or dinner arrives, they’ll be famished and stuff their mouths far more than they normally would.
Of course, I assume that your usual breakfast is a reasonable, healthy one. Starting the day with a stack of pancakes, grits, bacon and six eggs is NOT a good way to start the day, vacation or not!
2) Drink at least eight glasses of water a day
You should be drinking plenty of water every day anyway. This is even more important over the holidays.
We all tend to drink more alcohol or sugary sodas during the holidays. I’m not going to spoil the game by suggesting you deny yourself these indulgences, but try to alternate each “bad” drink with a glass of water. If it’s a glass of sparkling mineral water with a lime wedge in it, you won’t look or feel out of place. Your head and stomach will thank you the next morning.
3) Fill up on fiber
Have one of eight or more glasses of water, along with a fiber supplement, half an hour to forty minutes before your main meal. There’s also no need to buy expensive, over-hyped diet aids like ZetaCap or FiberThin. A product like Metamucil is much cheaper and just as effective.
By the time the food arrives, you’ll feel fuller, so you’ll eat less. And thanks to the extra fiber in your diet, food doesn’t stay in your digestive system as long, meaning less of it is absorbed to eventually make its way down your waist or thighs.
4) Pace yourself
This is true of the Christmas season as a whole and each of the big meals you encounter during this time. Be sure to enjoy these celebrations, but resist the temptation to celebrate every day between Thanksgiving and New Years.
When presented with a table moaning with all sorts of delicious treats, the natural response is to heap your plate with as much of everything as you can fit on it. Instead, eat larger but smaller portions. Eat a piece of turkey with some vegetables. Then go back for a piece of ham and potatoes. Hmm, the sauerkraut looks good…
Chew slowly and talk to your friends and family. Celebrations are inherently leisurely affairs. Use this to your advantage and take your time. That way, your stomach has enough time to register that it’s full, which it doesn’t do when you’re wolfing down a huge plate of food.
The bonus is that you can actually enjoy the dessert instead of forcing it out of a sense of duty.
5) Take a hike
Yes, the holidays offer more culinary temptations. But they also offer more opportunities for fun fat-burning activities.
Go for a leisurely swim or stroll along the beach if you live in a warm climate. If not, go on a relaxing hike in the woods with your children. Or snuggle up to your significant other in front of a roaring fire… which is sure to result in one of the most effective and enjoyable forms of exercise!
Thanks to Alan Cooper