Thursday, December 5, 2013

Five tips to fight the holiday weight gain

It's that time of year again, it's time for the holidays.  One of the greatest times of the year from a cheerfulness perspective also happens to be the time of year where a large chunk of Americans get...Well...Chunky.  The following six tips can help you beat the holiday bulge and get you started out right for the new year.

1)Ignore calories, eat real food

One of the biggest problems people have in general about diet is a focus on calories.    Over the past decade we have learned a lot about human biology and the inhabitants of our gut called the microbiota.  Obese and lean people have different a different gut microbiota composition, and when you take mice and put the microbiota of lean mice in to obese mice, the obese mice become lean.  As you enter the holiday season, ignore the calories and just focus on making quality food the bulk of what you eat.  That way, when you make poorer food selections, your body can deal with them(And so can the good guys in your gut).

2)Make an effort to manage stress

While the holidays are mostly a cheerful time, they can also be quite stressful and stress can help you pack on the pounds.  Make an effort to manage your stress by getting things done early so you don't have loose ends and have to stress about time crunches.  In addition, maybe take a weekly yoga class, meditate, or find ways to laugh throughout the day.

3)Make sleep a priority

Poor sleep is another lifestyle factor that can cause extra holiday weight gain.  Let's face it, everyone gets really excited to see loved ones, have a party, or go on a trip during the holidays.  As a result, we are prone to missing a night of sleep here or there as we eagerly anticipate the forthcoming week or weekend rather than getting to bed early and shutting down.  Work through the racing thoughts in your head by getting to bed 30 minutes early and focusing deeply on your breath rather than your trip back home.

4)Eat resistant starch to counteract some of the effects of consumption

A while back I was going to do a blog on resistant starch because I was having such good results with it for myself and clients in improving digestion and blood glucose.  I decided not to because Richard Nikoley over at Free the Animal has done such a fabulous job doing it over there.  The basic jist is that resistant starch feeds the good bacteria in your gut and they heal up any damage you cause with substandard food choices.  Three to four tbpsp of Bob's Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch will do the trick and you can get 19 days worth for $3.65 at most supermarkets.  Just make sure you don't heat it or the starch will no longer be resistant.  For more on this check out the resistant starch archive at Free the Animal. 

5)Approach the holidays like a round of golf

Whether you are playing golf or mini golf, you can get in to the same trap.  Maybe your first few holes are pretty good, but then you have a disastrous hole that takes away your confidence.  A good golfer shakes it off and gets back down to business, a bad golfer lets it get in their head and affect the rest of their game.  Don't let that happen to you, when you get off your game nutritionally, hop right back in to it with the proper mindset.  Rather than lamenting about the half of a cheesecake you wolfed down last night, don't skip your nutritious breakfast only to find yourself starving and making poor food choices 3 hours later.  Make your bad choices, do the damage, and get right back on track as soon as you can.

6)Take a hike

There is nothing worse for you than eating terribly and spending the next 3 hours sitting around the house whining about it.  If you go crazy with the cookies, do something slightly less crazy and take a 20 minute walk.  While eating 15 cookies is certainly not a good idea, eating 15 cookies and sitting on your keister is worse.  It's all about managing your choices, and if you want to choose to eat things you wouldn't normally eat, have at it.  Just remember you also have the choice to go for a walk afterwards.