Dr. Meaghan Datema, ND

Keeping the weight off during the holidays

“Oh the weather outside is frightful..” The Christmas season is coming, who is excited! Eggnog, turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry bliss bars, and more. Yum. All my favourite foods. Unfortunately these foods are not good for my waistline. I often gain 5lbs over the Christmas season without even thinking about it. Last Christmas I developed some strategies that helped me keep my weight and waistline under control during the Christmas season so that I could start January on the right foot.

Stay Active

The weather has taken a turn, there is snow on the ground, the temperature is below zero. These are not excuses that can be used to avoid activity or workouts. You need to stay active during the holiday season to balance out those extra meals or snacks that you are eating and this might mean a couple extra exercise classes during the season. Whether your activity is adding in an extra walk throughout your day, or running around in the snow with your kids, or going to a new exercise class, stay active. Every. Single. Day. Tip: find a buddy to do these activities with to keep you accountable and motivated. My goal this Christmas is to continue going to yoga three times per week and to walk every single day for at least 30 minutes with our dogs. What is your goal?

Watch your portion sizes

If you are like me, you want to eat all the foods at the Christmas dinners, family potlucks, work parties, etc. What I have found very helpful is watching how much of everything that I eat. I will still eat the sweets, hors d’oeuvres, and main dishes, but I watch how much of each that I eat. I also find it helpful to make sure I am roughly balancing my macros, eating more protein, and not going too heavy on the carbs.

Your portions can be estimated by hand-sized portions. Protein and meat portions should be no larger than your palm (this includes all the protein and meat you are eating in one sitting). Carbs should be no larger than the cup of your palm and this includes potatoes, fries, and crackers. Fats should be no larger than the size of your thumb. Leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beans for the most part can be pretty much unlimited depending on dressings.

Consider what you put on your plate

Along with watching your portions, watch what you are putting on your plate. I find the new Canada food guide a great example of what and how much should be on our plate during our meals. 50% of the plate should be fruits and vegetables, 25% should be whole grains, and 25% should be high protein foods. I find I tend to overeat the grains and proteins and under eat on the veggies. Tip: offer to bring veggies to Christmas dinners that are light on the dressing to increase the variety of vegetable options.

Limit the liquid calories

Mulled wine, beer, red wine, gin, rum, eggnog, and sodas are more commonly enjoyed around the holidays. Unfortunately these drinks are high in calories with limited benefits. Eggnog has 300 calories per 1 cup serving, beer ranges between 50-200 calories per beer, wine ranges between 100-200 calories per 9 oz glass. These add up really quickly. It would take 1 hour of walking to burn 1 drink. 1 drink per day for a whole week can contribute to about a pound of weight gain.

This is not saying that you have to avoid alcohol or christmas beverages, but to remind you to drink mindfully. If you know you are going to have a drink later, make sure that you go for a walk before hand.

Plan ahead

Look at your calendar, when are your Christmas parties this year? During the week before your party try to see if you can get some extra activity in, maybe an extra walk or two. If possible limit the extra snacking and drinks knowing that you will indulge in these at the party. On the day of the party get some activity in before the event if possible. Try not to show up to the party hungry, that will lead to overeating. Tip: before the party eat a snack of lean protein (i.e. pickles and turkey, protein powder in water, hard-boiled eggs), this will increase your daily protein consumption, decrease your hunger signals, and hopefully prevent overeating.

Hope these tips help you get through the holidays!

PS. stay tuned for some healthy Christmas goodies 🙂 

Yours in health,

grimsby naturopath

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