The holidays are here and with them come turkey, stuffing, cookies, eggnog and general yumminess that makes this season so fantastic (and fattening)! There will be parties, family, lots of food and drink, as well as joy and stress. It just goes with the holiday territory. The great news is that there are some simple things you can do to compensate for the holiday craziness and keep your body feeling strong and your jeans fitting great!
- See the Holiday Lights – It’s the holidays so get out there and enjoy your neighbors’ holiday cheer. Austin has some truly spectacular light shows and the good news is that by walking around to look at them, you’re adding in some exercise and cold air, both of which burn a significant number of calories. It might not compensate for drinking a gallon of eggnog, but it may afford you a cup. Sadly, the effect is lost if you look at the lights from your car.
Eat Before the Party – You know the holiday parties are going to have awesome, wonderful, fattening food. That part is no mystery. If you run straight from work to the party, chances are you’re showing up hungry and eating more. If you can eat a well-balanced meal before the party then you’re more likely to feel satisfied and just have a few things to nibble, instead of a few plates to fill the saddlebags.
Take Your Fiber – I know there’s nothing about fiber that screams holiday fun (with the possible exception of Orthomolecular’s Fiber Plus which is actually pretty yummy in apple-cinnamon) but it can be a holiday miracle. Taking fiber on an empty stomach before a big meal can help you to feel more full before the meal even starts and it can help you eat more moderately. We all know the third serving of stuffing isn’t going to help, so how about some fiber and then just one serving of stuffing? Fiber in general is a great weight loss tool that helps you intake fewer calories and feel more satisfied – just be sure to take it with lots of water!
Put the Cookies Away – Yes, there will be cookies and yes you will eat them all if you leave them out on the kitchen table. Try packing the cookies away so you have to work to get into them. This gives you some thinking time when you’re reaching for them and gives you the opportunity to pass them by – at least some of the time. I would never encourage getting rid of the cookies entirely, but putting them where you can reach them easily and constantly is probably not a great plan either.
Garcinia Cambogia – I know you’ve seen it on Dr. Oz, but this fruit from India and Indonesia can actually help you make it through the holiday food-fest. Garcinia works by blocking the conversion from sugars and starches (cookies) to fat in your body. It also reduces appetite. It’s not a great long-term plan, but it could be a nice addition to your routine between Thanksgiving and the new year to help you stay a little closer to your normal weight. Green Coffee Bean, which changes the way your body utilizes glucose, can help keep your weight normal for the holidays as well.
Boost Your Serotonin – Sometimes holiday eating isn’t about the parties and the events, it’s about the loneliness and sadness that often comes up at these times. This sadness, which is usually caused by low serotonin, often makes you crave carbs – starchy, sugary, or creamy foods that help your body to boost neurotransmitter levels. If you know this holiday season is going to be difficult for you then taking something like 5-HTP can really help to keep those serotonin levels stable. Check with your doctor before trying a neurotransmitter supplement because anything natural that can boost serotonin may interact with medications that work similarly.
Be Mindful and Ask For Help – Keep a good awareness about yourself, your stress levels, your emotional comfort and eating habits through the holiday season. If you know you need a little extra support or if you need a cookie-buddy to help you stay away from the huge platters of cookies, doughnuts, fruit cake and other treats that inevitably show up at home and the office, then ask someone! Chances are they need a little extra support right now, too.
The biggest thing to remember is to just enjoy the season for what it is. Holidays are filled with ups and downs, highs and lows. Just make yourself a priority through the season and try to get normal sleep, normal exercise and stay joyful as often as possible. Being mindful of your own stress levels will help with the extra holiday eating and help you get back to healthy eating more quickly after the holidays.
by Amy Neuzil, ND*. Amy is available for consultation at Peoples Wellness Center at Lakeline.
* Naturopathic doctors are not currently licensed in the state of Texas.