How to Handle the Holidays and Maintain Your Weight
We are entering into the holiday season, and for our culture this means food, family, and fun! This can be a particularly challenging time to make healthy eating choices. We don’t need to tell you that family functions can be stressful; they can be especially difficult for those of us that struggle with “emotional” eating. This can be a particularly important time to implement those behavioral changes that you’ve been working so hard at while on the program.
Here are some suggestions on how to give you a leg up to avoid sticky situations:
- Get plenty of rest: sleep can really help or hinder our moods and ability to keep a good outlook.
- Before you reach for an alcoholic beverage, keep this in mind: while alcohol can make you feel relaxed, the sugar can disrupt sleep patterns, causing you to feel less rested and increase irritability. Not to mention those nasty hangovers can really ruin your day, and cause you to miss out on some family fun.
- Avoid hot topics at the dinner table. Keep family conversations polite, much like you would in business; avoid topics like politics and religion. If things get emotionally charged, excuse yourself to the bathroom, go for a walk, or go upstairs and scream into a pillow; separate yourself from the situation.
- We tend to revert to familial roles. You may find yourself acting just as you did when you were a teenager: bickering with your siblings, even though you’re in your 50’s. Those family dynamics can draw you in; try to keep yourself centered and grounded. Do yoga or meditate in the morning before you encounter your loved ones.
Remember, the holidays can be harried and hectic, but they can also be fun and create wonderful memories to last a lifetime!
Most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey as the main staple. However, what’s so great about turkey? Here are some facts that you may, or may not know: Turkey is high in B vitamins, such as B6 Niacin, and selenium. Selenium is a trace mineral with strong antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help to prevent cellular damage from free radicals in the bloodstream.
Turkey is an excellent source of Tryptophan, which is an amino acid; amino acids are the building blocks for protein synthesis. Tryptophan helps to form Serotonin (a “happy hormone”) which helps to regulate mood.
More on sleep deprivation…
Last month, we visited the topic of sleep and its affect on weight loss. Here are a couple more reasons to make sleep a priority:
For your body to perform optimally it is recommended that you go to sleep early, around 9-10pm because sleep effects about 10 different hormones. One such hormone is prolactin, which is necessary for the immune function. According to the National Institutes of Health, six hours of sleep is the minimum necessary for prolactin synthesis, to prevent putting your body at greater risk for illness.
“Consider the role light and sleep has played in our evolution as humans. For millions of years we evolved with the seasons. Summer days are longer, brighter, and accompanied by abundant food. Winter days have longer nights, colder days, and less food. This may seem obvious, but before the amenities of artificial light, heat, and readily available and processed foods, the only option at night was to sleep. Summer and winter in the natural world send distinct and clear signals to a mammal’s physiology.
In the case of summer, the lengthened days meant elevated stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. The excess food meant higher amounts of insulin to signal fat storage and leptin to increase hunger. The whole goal of summer is to mate and then eat as much as you can to get fat for the coming winter.
As fall approaches, the body has been exposed to high amounts of the stress hormones, insulin, and leptin for so long it becomes resistant to their action creating a unique state where the ability to use fat or sugar for fuel is compromised. Sound familiar? This is the modern day equivalent of what doctors call metabolic syndrome. To ancient man reaching this state of hormone resistance was essential to surviving winter. Without high sugar, blood fat, and ample fat depots, the chances of surviving a long cold winter were diminished.”
Teta ND CSCS and Keoni Teta ND, LAc, CSCS
The staff here at Go Figure are here to help you achieve weight loss goals and help your body to avoid fat storage in two key ways: by decreasing the amount of energy dense foods being consumed in the regular American diet, and promoting blood sugar stabilization by encouraging you to eat protein frequently throughout the day. Along with adequate rest, these two components of the program alone help to combat nature’s fat storing signals.
Holiday Eating Tips
- Plan ahead for what you will choose to eat, especially when going to family gatherings and parties.
- Remember to take your medicine and supplements.
- Eat some protein before going shopping or to parties, so that you’re not hungry when you get there. Eat protein before carbs at meals.
- Carry protein snacks with you wherever you go, so you don’t eat “junk” when you get hungry.
- If you decide to eat foods that are not on the program eating plan, eat only those items that are your favorites, and eat just small amounts. Leave the rest. Ask yourself: “Do I want to waste my calories on this food that I don’t really love?”
- Make sure to get some protein every 4 hrs. or so.
- Eat most of your meals from the plan, save treats for special occasions.
- If you eat off the plan for a meal, or a day, get right back on it with the next meal.
- Figure out in advance how you will respond to family and friends’ “peer pressure” to eat or drink things that are not on our plan.
- Ask us about including a “Jumpstart/Reset” with some extra carbs over Thanksgiving and Christmas. It can help increase weight loss.
- When eating out, ask the server for a “to-go” box right when they bring your meal and scoop part of it into the box and close the lid. Enjoy the rest at home for another meal!
- Be aware of odors and fragrances: candles, food venues, etc. They are strong triggers for emotional eating. Recognize what’s prompting the urge, and choose consciously!
Most important: Whatever you eat, ENJOY it, don’t feel guilty! You will start losing again as soon as you start eating on your plan.