'Tis the season to be jolly, spend time with family and friends, celebrate life's little blessings and of course, eat.
The holiday season and food go hand in hand. Whether christmas cake, honey-glazed ham, buttery Christmas cookies or turkey and stuffing, holiday eating takes its toll on our health and our waistline. In fact, people tend to gain an average of 3-5 kgs over the Christmas season.
Preventing holiday weight gain is a challenge for everyone, including people who have had bariatric surgery. The good news is that holiday weight gain is not inevitable. You can avoid packing on those unsightly pounds by following these 10 simple tips:
Never arrive hungry
Eat every three or four hours, and always take a protein bar, shake or healthy snack with you so you don't arrive at the party famished.
Eat the turkey or ham first
People who have had bariatric surgery are advised to eat protein first, and the holidays are no exception. Protein is essential for wound healing, preserving lean body mass, enhancing fat-burning metabolism and minimising hair loss after weight loss surgery. Since individuals who have had bariatric surgery can only tolerate small amounts of food, it is essential to eat protein first. After you have eaten your protein, take a few, small bites of your favourite dishes.
Drink water or other non-caloric beverages
Coffee and tea, which are very low in calories, are staples at many holiday parties, and often come in festive flavours.
Chew slowly and eat mindfully
A new study slated for publication in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism shows that eating a meal quickly inhibits the release of hormones in the gut that induce feelings of being full, resulting in overeating. Mindful eating ensures we stay connected with our sense of when we are full and enjoying what food we do have in front of us.
Tweak your favourite holiday recipes
You can still enjoy some of your kiwi christmas favourites without sacrificing your waistline. Let's say you grew up eating the classic roast with potatoes and stuffing. Choose low carb variations like cauliflower mash or a nut and herb stuffing (instead of breadcrumbs). Many people who have had weight loss surgery are sensitive to sugar. Try making your favourite dessert — such as pavlova — with Splenda instead.
Bring a vegetable or fruit tray
Bring something that you can eat an unlimited amount of so you won't go hungry or risk binging on fattening fare.
Make your holiday about reconnecting instead of chowing down. Holidays are for family and friends, not food.
Start new traditions
Plan to take a walk or play touch rugby or cricket with relatives instead of having an extended happy hour. Regular exercise can help maintain weight loss.
Sit far away from buffet or kitchen
Sure, front-row or courtside seats may be ideal for sporting events, but if you are trying to keep your weight down, sitting far away from the buffet or kitchen, and not facing it, is a good call.
Give it away
Don't keep leftovers lying around. Donate the excess to a local homeless shelter or pack up doggie bags for family members and friends.
Remember, the holidays are also about forgiveness. If you do end up overindulging, give yourself a break. Get right back on track the following day by recommitting to healthy eating and regular exercise. Don't beat yourself up and throw in the towel, redirect your thinking into letting the episodes go and moving forward by doing the next right thing.