To many people the holidays mean food and to eat healthy is often a challenge. It’s estimated that on the average most of us gain a pound over the holidays. I’m pretty sure in my case that is a low estimate. While that pound may not sound too bad, if you eat that way regularly those pounds add up. According to Dr. Oz, instead of paying attention to your waist size over the holidays it’s better to concentrate on building muscle so that losing that weight afterwards is not as hard. Here are some holiday tips on eating to build up muscle, eat healthy and incorporate some fat burning foods into your diet.
- Getting enough sleep helps curb craving for comfort foods and snacks and supports building muscle.
- Use spices, herbs, fruits and nuts to flavor dishes instead of butter and other fats. Garlic mashed potatoes are a great example and replace fatty sour cream dips with hummus.
- Eat a healthy protein or healthy fat snack before going to holiday parties so you are not as likely to overeat, especially if the party includes a buffet table.
- Substitute healthier snack choices that meet your food cravings. For example, if you crave a creamy sweet like ice cream have a cup of yogurt with fruit instead or at least go for a smaller amount of slow churned ice cream that doesn’t have as much fat and can be half the amount of calories. If your food craving leans more towards the chips category because of the salt and crunch you get, you can easily rack up 1230 calories by eating an eight ounce bag. Carrots, celery, or baked whole grain crackers with a hummus dip can give you the crunch in a more healthy way without sacrificing flavor.
- Protein foods satisfy hunger longer and burn up more calories in digesting them than other types of foods. Quinoa makes a great side dish with a cup having 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber and fish is a good protein that is also low fat and gives you omega-3 fatty acids. Most adults need 45 – 56 grams of protein daily and more if they get regular exercise so food sources are usually adequate to provide the protein needed. If you have a really strenuous or active lifestyle or just don’t take the time to eat right, protein drinks can help. To lose fat the best are the ones with not many carbs and mostly protein with only a touch of fat. Jose Antonio, chief executive officer and co-founder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition advises having a drink that is over 50% protein to lose body fat.
- Traditional holiday fare is always a temptation. We all have family favorites that maybe we’ve had since childhood bringing up fond memories. Instead of depriving yourself of these type goodies, limit the amount you’ll eat. One bite of that chocolate fudge savored slowly can satisfy the craving so that you don’t have to gobble up several pieces.
- Nuts are a food often served at parties and just sitting around as a snack food during the holidays. While nuts are a healthy snack, they also are a fatty snack so too much can put on the weight. A single cup of mixed nuts can be over 800 calories. Get nuts with shells that have to be cracked. That will take longer to eat than already shelled nuts that you can wolf down by the handful.
- Many people get a blood sugar drop in the middle of the afternoon and reach for a carb filled or sugary snack to regain energy. That adds on calories and the body burns those types of calories quicker. A snack with protein and complex carb will stabilize blood sugar and last longer. Healthy snacks to have around are ones that have less than 200 calories like yogurt with fruit, boiled eggs, and veggies with bean dip or hummus.
- Stress is abundant during the holidays so be careful of emotional or stress eating. Try going for a walk, meditation or a relaxing soak in the tub before turning to food to relieve stress.
- A study in Appetite reported workers taking a 15 minute walk were 50% less likely to eat chocolate back at their desks than those that rested for those 15 minutes. So getting some exercise not only burns off some of those extra calories, but also can curb your craving for sweets.
- When snacking on yogurt, pick Greek yogurt as it has double the protein of regular yogurts to help build muscle and keep you full longer. Your body also burns more calories digesting protein than it does digesting carbohydrates.
- Foods that have a high water content are great for curbing appetite as they make you feel fuller, are full of nutrients and are low calorie. Raw veggies and fruits fit in this category and also provide you with antioxidants and fiber. Oatmeal not only has a high water content, but is also rich in fiber, filling, and hot. Hot foods take a longer time to eat. Filling up on salad before a meal can also help you avoid overeating more fatty foods with the main meal.
Here’s to healthier eating over the holidays this year! Just being aware of ways to cut down your calorie intake can help you avoid overeating and make it easier to burn off those extra calories after the holidays.