First, a quip from Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird:
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand,” said Atticus to Scout. “It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”
Atticus wasn’t talking about emotional eating, dealing with family conflict over the holidays, or wrestling with that last 10 pounds. He was talking about fear, and courage, and perseverence. And that’s what holiday goals and losing weight over the holiday season is all about.
Enter Ann G. Kulze, M.D., who is the CEO & Founder of Dr. Ann & Just Wellness, and the author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet. To learn more about her book, click on the cover. Here are her 18 ways to lose weight over the holidays…
18 Ways to Stay Slim at Christmas
“The good news is that the “holiday 10″ that is frequently touted is a myth – in reality most Americans actually gain around a pound,” says Dr Kulze. “The bad news is that studies show the weight gained over the winter holidays isn’t lost during the rest of the year. Over time, this yearly pound creep can have a devastating impact on your health, as even 5 pounds of weight gain can increase your risk of a number of chronic diseases including high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.”
1. Stay away from foods that rev up your appetite. The “Great White Hazards” are white flour products, white rice, and white potatoes. Holidays are already a dietary pitfall for most – these foods add insult to injury. Stay slim at Christmas by staying away from white foods.
2. Choose whole grains and beans as the alternative to the starchy white stuff. Whole grains and beans are super healthy and provide long-lasting appetite suppression. To achieve your holiday weight loss goals, try bean salad instead of potato salad, brown rice over white rice, 100% whole grain crackers or breads over the “white” ones, and no rolls and biscuits.
3. Minimize your liquid calories! Liquid calories (soda, fruit drinks, fruit juices, caloric mixers and other sweet drinks) tend to be very fattening in two ways: 1) Liquid sugars illicit rapid surges of blood glucose and insulin that perpetuate appetite and put the body in fat storage mode; and 2) Liquid calories provide no bulk in the GI tract. Physical bulk in the GI tract is a powerful appetite suppressant.
4. Drink water or unsweetened tea. When you choose to have “a drink,” make wine, light or low-carb beer or spirits with a non-caloric mixer your first choice. This is an easy way to stay slim at Christmas nd stick to your weight loss goals – you’ll barely notice that you’re sacrificing!
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5. Be sure to have some protein at each meal. Protein is nature’s diet pill. The digestion of protein gives rise to a steady more prolonged blood glucose level which translates to less hunger and more energy! The healthiest proteins are fish, shellfish, poultry, beans, wild game, soy, omega 3 eggs, nuts/seeds and low-fat dairy products. Eat white turkey meat over prime rib, lean cold cuts over Swedish meatballs, and bean dip or hummus over onion or artichoke dip.
6. Fill up first on foods that have lots of bulk but minimal calories, ie. the “big, yet skinny” fruits and veggies. Physical bulk (stuff) in the GI tract provides great appetite suppression, which can be an easy way to stay slim at Christmas and stick to your holiday weight loss goals.
7. Go for the veggies & fruit. At a holiday cocktail party, go straight to the fruit and veggie platter first and really indulge; use high fat dips sparingly. If available, make bean dips (hummus) your first choice. Fill two thirds of your plate with fruits, veggies and beans before serving the rest of your meal. To achieve your holiday weight loss goals, eat a big tossed salad or a couple of servings of a veggie side dish before the rest of the meal.
8. Don’t let yourself get hungry! It takes less calories to prevent hunger than it does to deal with it once it occurs. Always consume three meals a day with between meal snacks as necessary to keep your hunger at bay. Withholding food for several hours or more leads to low blood sugar (excessive hunger), slows down your metabolism and primes the pancreas to release extra fat-storing insulin when you finally eat. Additionally, true hunger elicits a primal fear and anxiety response that sets you up for dietary indiscretions.
9. Have a snack an hour before you arrive at a holiday gathering. Dr Ann’s top pick would be a small handful of nuts along with a piece of fruit (apple) or fresh raw veggies (handful of carrots) dipped in hummus. This is not only an easy way to stick to your holiday weight loss goals – it’ll keep you really healthy, too.
10. Make exercise a priority! It’s a fantastic safeguard against weight gain and helps compensate for holiday indulgences. Exercise not only helps you stick to your holiday weight loss goals, it’s also the perfect tonic for the stress and anxiety we all experience during the holiday season (many people binge when stressed).
11. Take a “family walk” after your holiday feast. If you’re not into walking, consider signing up for a holiday road race, scheduling a regular work-out with a trainer, recruiting a holiday walking buddy, incorporating walking into your holiday shopping, and wear comfortable shoes. Don’t forget house-cleaning and yardwork count as exercise too!
12. Satisfy your sweet tooth. Fresh fruit salad, a piece of high quality dark chocolate, or a cup of “real” hot cocoa are delicious and nutritious. If you prefer other goodies, be mindful of your portions. Staying slim at Christmas doesn’t have to mean denying yourself!
13. Indulge in alcohol in moderation. Over indulgence loosens inhibitions and increases the risk of dietary indiscretion (and a number of other health risks). To add insult to injury, too much alcohol in the evening triggers excessive morning hunger and cravings for starchy junk foods for many. And of course the calories in alcohol can really add up!
14. Minimize the effects of alcohol. Drink a full glass of water between each alcoholic beverage at parties, and always make sure there is some food in your stomach before you have a drink. Watching your alcohol intake is an effective way to stay slim at Christmas.
15. Learn to say no. Don’t feel obligated to attend every party either – choose your holiday parties wisely. This is an easy way to lose weight over the holidays because it cuts down on the potential for overindulging and too many late nights.
16. Get your beauty rest! Provocative new research reveals that sleep deprivation enhances appetite, and increases cravings for diet-sabotaging foods like sweets, chips, breads and pasta. Late-night partying is a risk for expanding waistlines along multiple fronts! Additionally, sleep deprivation zaps energy and enthusiasm for exercise, which isn’t a great way to stay slim at Christmas.
17. Avoid mindless eating – approach every meal, every snack and every party mindfully. Don’t linger over the buffet table or hover over the hors d’oeuvres, nibbling as you engage in conversation. That’ll sabotage your holiday weight loss goals for sure.
18. Pre-plate everything (meals, hors d’oeuvres, dessert etc). We tend to eat less if we can view it all before we start. This is an easy way to stay slim at Christmas – if you can stick to one or two plates!
Do you have any tips for staying slim at Christmas? If so, please comment below… And, to learn more about Dr Ann, visit Dr Ann’s Just Wellness website.