Frank Salvatore
Health and Lifestyle

Tips to Staying Slim Through the Holidays

December 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you have big plans for a big holiday dinner that send you into an exercise frenzy in the morning, you are in good company. Data from Fitbit has shown that those using a FitBit run for a longer period of time on Thanksgiving Day than on a non-holiday, typically waking up early to do so. While it is great to exercise, particularly for weight loss, there is no need to go overboard to compensate for a large holiday meal.

To put on excess weight from one day of overindulging, you would need to consume about 3,500 more calories than the typical amount of calories you eat each day, which equals one pound of fat. Because this is such a large amount of food, it would be very difficult to do.

Weight gain typically comes from eating excess calories over a long period of time. So after a night of indulging in holiday fare, you return to your normal diet, an occasional celebratory feast will not make you gain weight. However, if you are on track to lose weight, here are some tips to help you enjoy your holiday meals without guilt.

Make Sure to Eat Before the Meal

If you spend the day starving your cells from the nutrients that they need, your metabolism will slow down. This means that when a large amount of calories come in with your holiday meal, your body will store these extra calories as fat. While you may know that you will feed your body again soon, biologically your body reacts based on its levels of nutrients and hormones. In order to prevent your body from storing all of the calories you consume, continue to eat as you typically would before a large celebratory meal. Even a small breakfast is sufficient to activate your metabolism.

Drink Water

Your stomach can hold approximately one liter of contents. If you drink water before your meal, you will leave enough room in your stomach to enjoy the food, while reducing the amount of food you consume.

Brush Your Teeth

Studies have shown that exposing yourself to peppermint may keep your appetite down. The strong scent of peppermint creates a natural appetite suppressant, which can be acquired by brushing your teeth, sipping peppermint tea, or using essential oils. However, do not choose to chew minty gum, because the chewing may stimulate hunger by releasing salivary amylase, which is the digestive enzyme that begins the breakdown of carbohydrates.

Plan Ahead

Create a plan that puts you in control. Overeating often happens due to temptation rather than to hunger. Be aware of the fact that holiday meals may be a challenge, and create a plan to help yourself stay in control. For example, pick only one portion of the meal to splurge on, such as appetizers or desserts. Another idea is to only eat foods that you do not normally eat throughout the year, such as pecan pie, eggnog, or stuffing. By making a point to enjoy the celebration without guilt, you will be able to stay on the wagon during the holiday meal and beyond.

Eat an Apple

Snacking on a medium-sized apple a few minutes prior to a holiday meal can reduce your consumption of calories at the meal by about 15 percent, due to its richness in fiber. This averages 186 calories less, which is 60 more calories than you consumed in the apple.

Go to the Gym

Going to the gym on the day of a holiday meal, or exercising outside, can reduce your appetite by reducing your hunger hormones. The more intensive your exercise is, the more your hunger will be suppressed. Studies have even shown that exercising just prior to a meal may reduce calorie intake by 30%.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep before a holiday meal may make a difference in what you choose to eat. A lack of sleep can mess with the hormones that control appetite, such as leptin and ghrelin. These also increase cravings for unhealthy food. Try to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

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Frank Salvatore