Food Science With Foley: Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Elizabeth Health Professional

Christmas-Sangria.jpgPhoto courtesy: thelovenerds.com

 

The holidays are amazing. The food, the drinks, the presents- it’s all wonderful. Until you try to button your skinny jeans. Then the realization that you can’t eat 5,000 calories worth of sugar cookies and holiday sangria every day comes crashing down on you like, well, 5,000 calories worth of sugar cookies and holiday sangria.


During the holidays, there’s nothing wrong with splurging. The issue, however, is when we splurge multiple times throughout the week. More than 100 million Americans have Prediabetes or Type II Diabetes, which has to do with elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels. Couple that with excessive carbohydrate intake from holiday food, desserts, and alcohol, and you have a much bigger issue than weight gain on your hands. When you have a lot of carbohydrates, it causes an insulin spike in your blood. Insulin is a storage hormone and helps your body utilize glucose for energy. But when your body becomes insulin resistant, you can feel tired, sluggish, and experience weight gain.

 

In addition to adding at least 30 minutes of exercise to your schedule 3-5 days per week, I have a few more simple tips to avoid weight gain and insulin spikes! If all you want for Christmas is to keep off the extra pounds, you don’t need a miracle from Santa you just need to make a couple of simple lifestyle changes. Ideally, you’re already eating lots of veggies and some fruits, but even if you aren’t these tips can help.


On days that you know you have a holiday party with delicious food and desserts, start adjusting your diet at the beginning of the day. For breakfast, eat something that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates like eggs and some fruit. If you’re worried about eggs and cholesterol, don’t because multiple studies have shown that eggs are beneficial for glucose control and cholesterol levels. For lunch, have another high protein meal, with veggies and perhaps a handful of nuts. A healthy salad may also work, but be careful about cheese and the dressing because those can be very fatty, and the dressing, in particular, can be high in sugar.


Once you get to your holiday party, feel free to cut loose! You can absolutely have a few drinks but stick with drinks that don’t have artificial sweeteners, sugary sodas, or other syrupy ingredients. Vodka soda (unsweetened soda water) is a very low-calorie drink. Wine is another great option because it has antioxidants, but it is higher in calories. Feel free to snack on whatever “real” food is available, but make sure that you include some vegetables and other traditionally healthy options; avoid heavily breaded or fried foods. When it comes to dessert, I won’t pretend to tell you to avoid the deliciousness. Just limit yourself to one or two servings!


As a general rule, a few lifestyle changes will also help you not only keep off extra weight but possibly lose some in the process. Stop drinking soda, increase your lean protein intake, and eat more vegetables than you do bread or rice.

 

Happy Holidays!

 

Elizabeth Foley is an FSU Ph.D. Candidate in Nutrition and Food Science. Posts and blogs created by Elizabeth on the Wealth Meet Health community are for informational purposes only and are not meant to take the place of your relationship with a health professional. For personal health considerations, please consult a health professional directly.