Q. How can I deal with the weight, I will put on this holiday season?
A. Fight back with these tips on eating, exercise, and reducing stress.
The parties, sweets, alcohol, missed workouts, late nights, mall-crawling, small talk, family issues, breathing air on crowded planes -- ah, it's the holidays. The experts say you need to get in training and be mindful to stay healthy and stress-free.
"Diet, exercise, mind and spirit are key," says Laurie Steelsmith, ND, a naturopath in private practice in Honolulu and author of Natural Choices for Women's Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness. "You need to build up to this time of indulgence.
"We need to remember what this is all about: connecting with loved ones," Steelsmith says.
Diet Tips for Healthy Holidays
Even if you are foraging in a relative's kitchen and not doing the shopping, a healthy diet consists of five fruits or veggies a day, complex whole-grain carbs, and adequate protein. Surely you can grab an apple or banana and slap together a whole-grain, lean turkey sandwich instead of chowing down on cold ham fat and cookies.
Larrian Gillespie, MD, author of The Goddess Diet, tells WebMD that fiber is very important when eating richer meals than usual. "Nuts are a good source of fiber," she explains. "Sprinkle them over your food. They make you feel fuller."
Gillespie also suggests switching your biggest intake to mid-day. This gives you more time to work off the calories.
Hot fluids, Steelsmith says, like soup or tea can also thin out mucus secretions that can trap bacteria and viruses. She also suggests eating plenty of garlic, which has strong antiviral, antibacterial, and immune-stimulating properties.
Rubbing on hand sanitizer before a meal can stave off the unfamiliar germs.
Gillespie recommends liberal consumption of the holiday staple, cranberries, to stave off possible digestive distress from copious amounts of turkey and chicken, which can sometimes be cooked inadequately.
Steelsmith also advises packing a one-a-day multivitamin.
Steelsmith recommends drinking a lot of filtered or bottled water as you go through your day, even on shopping forays. Heat in a sauna, with plenty of sweating, helps detoxify. Or even taking a cold shower. Brrrr! Her prescription is to let hot water run down your spine for a count of 10, then cold for a count of five, then hot for a count of 10, for three cycles. "End with the cold," she says. "This is great for energizing."
Before a party, of course, plan to eat and drink sensibly:
- Drink water beforehand. Alternate sparkling water with an alcohol drink, if you wish to drink.
- Fill a plate and don't hover (or should that be hoover?) over the buffet.
- When you load a plate, aim for 2-3 bites of each food that appeals to you. Better to eat something in moderation than yearn for it later and maybe overindulge.
- You also can put some calories in the bank before a party. Eat lightly at all other meals of the day, but don't starve yourself all day. That can lead to that buffet-hoovering syndrome.
Exercise Tips for Holiday Health
Fabio Comano, a certified trainer at the American Council on Exercise, recommends plunging in and getting in shape now, knowing that the holidays will bring a few pounds. "Most people tend to put on weight in winter," he tells WebMD. "It's part of our (biological) survival pattern, a little like animals packing it on for hibernation."
Comano thinks the holidays are stressful enough without loading yourself down with unrealistic exercise goals. "If you exercise 45 minutes a day, you may only be able to do 30 minutes," he says.
- Start the day with deep-breathing and meditating (if you meditate).
- Take a walk before a meal, then one after. Or take a walk after dinner but before dessert.
- If you bake cookies as gifts, walk them around to the neighbors' houses.
- If you exercise in the morning normally, keep up that schedule. Just don't skip.
- Buddy up with a family member. Walking is a good time to catch up.
- Start some family traditions that are active, such as cross-country skiing.
- Gillespie recommends make-work projects, such as setting the table one piece at a time and returning to the kitchen in between. "Put on some holiday tunes and dance!" she urges.
- Don't stress out about exercise. It's the other way around -- exercise eliminates stress!
Tips for Calming Holiday Emotions
"You need to get sufficient sleep during the holidays," Steelsmith says. This is part of a "lifestyle tune-up" she recommends.
The No. 1 priority in such a tune-up is to see if you are spending your time on the things you value most. Stress goes up if you do things you don't value. Write down what things are most important to you -- family, caregiving, work, status, whatever it is -- and pursue those most important.
If you are overcommitted, say no. Don't feel guilty. The person who asked probably didn't want to do it either.
If the holidays are a time of religious observation for you, leave plenty of time for that.
If there are children around, remember how they love this time of year and look forward to it. Make sure they get sufficient rest and get to help with the wrapping, shopping, decorating, and cooking, even if they make these projects take longer.
The ACE recommends against unrealistic expectations. Don't expect to throw the perfect party or find the perfect gift for everyone. Somewhere, at almost every moment, a dog is eating a dropped turkey. It's part of life.
To get in touch with the "new you," take 15 minutes to be alone each day. Do some stretching.Read. Or just focus on what is around you with every sense. Do you hear tinkling bells? Smell gingerbread and pine? See sparkling lights? Feel the soft cheek of a napping child curled up next to you? Taste a sip of mulled cider or a dab of traditional eggnog on your tongue?
See? The holidays are not all scheduling, stress, sore feet, arguing, and obligation!
Any personal health questions or problems mental or physical or before starting any diet or exercise program.Please consult your physician !
Wishing You Great Health!
Glen Edward Mitchell
Any questions? Ask Glen