Friday, January 01, 2010

Seven Ways to Beat the Holiday Bulge

This is the time of the season again when people are stressed out with holiday shopping. The economic downtime (albeit on the way of recovering) has added salt to the wound - pushing many people out of jobs.

One of the biggest traps for people wanting to lose weight is to use foods as a way of comforting themselves or soothing their stress and anxiety and make them feel good.

Many people eat even when they are physically hungry. When eating food is nothing to do with fulfilling basic survival needs and fueling your body, it becomes emotional eating - from stress, boredom, anxiety, frustation, loneliness, sadness, etc.

Holidays, parties, social functions, weather are all triggers to binge eating or emotional eating. If you feel guility after eating, that's unhealthy eating behavior. You should feel satisfied after eating for physical hungry

On the New Year's Eve, almost everyone is reflecting the past year and looking forward to the coming year. The New Year's resolutions seem to become cliche. Many people stop making them since one-third of them quit in the first month. Half of them will be gone after six months.

Starting a new page for the New Year requires letting go of some of the bad habits and beliefs that didn't serve you. Here are the top 7 holiday diet traps and some strategies to beat them before making a clean start for your New Year's resolutions.

1. Dinner buffet and cocktail party. The social and family gatherings are inevitable. We're in the world of abundance - plenty of food selections and feasts. No wonder two-third of Americans are either overweight or obese. To avoid social overeating and binge, you can eat a light meal or snack packed with lean protein and fiber about one to two hours before the event. When you're not that hungry, you're less likely to make poor unhealthy choices.

2. Eat while you cook. Have you been wondering why it's rare to see a fit chef? When you cook, you're likely to taste a little here and there. These calories do add up. You can try to chew mint-flavored gum to keep your mouth busy. You can try to sniff peppermint oil. It helps depress appetite by stimulating the area of the brain to make you feel full. So you'll eat less even you do.

3. Eat everything on the table. This is the one you want to be picky eater. Before you sit down to chow, "survey" the foods to be served including drinks, appetiziers, entries, deserts, etc. Instead of eating everything, choose a few (hopefully balanced out with good carb, vegetables, lean protein and essential fats) that you really like and enjoy them. Leave some room (discretionary calories) for special dishes that you can only have during the holidays.

4. Portion, portion, portion! This is a no-brainer. But most people are still side-tracked or put themselves in situations that they don't have control. If you use a smaller plate or bowl, you'll fill up less amount of food at every meal. It will help you eat less (or the right amount). Pay attention to the recommended porition size. For example, one serving of rice is half a cup; not a full cup. That's 100 calorie difference!

5. Mindless eating. Notice that how much more you eat when you watch TV, read magazine or listen to a CD or tape than eating alone or in silence? When your mind is busy with something else while eating, you don't fully savor the taste and tend to overeat. So start practicing 'mindful' eating.

6. Winter domance or hibernation. The bitterly cold weather in winter makes many people become dormant or go into hibernation. They don't move much at all and certainly are less likely to burn enough calories to maintain their weight. Stay active. Do short 10 to 15 minutes of exercises using bodyweight or simple free weights at home even if you can't go to gym.

7. Lack of quality sleep and rest. We're already a sleep-deprived nation. The hustle and bustle over the holidays just make it worse for many people to get enough 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep. When you sleep less than 5 hours, your body produces lower level of leptin, a hormone that controls how full you feel. You also have higher level of ghrelin that stimulate appetite. In the end, you tend to eat more and gain weight.

It's your decision now to release the old bad habits and make room for the new healthy positive changes.

My best wishes for the New Year!


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