The holidays are a great time to spend with family gathered around good food. While it’s fun to splurge a bit during the holiday season, even those with the strongest willpowers seem to struggle. With so many baked goods, holiday parties and big meals, it’s not surprising that most people have a hard time maintaining their weight during the end of the year.
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Keep an eye on your diet
The rule that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to losing or maintain your weight is true. It isn’t possible to outwork a bad diet, so keeping things in check during the holiday season is essential if you don’t want to gain weight. Below are a few ways to avoid the holiday bulge.
- Keep Checking In:
It may not sound fun, but getting on the scale once or twice a week may be enough to keep your weight in check during the holidays. Be sure to hop on the scale as soon as you wake up in the morning while your stomach is still empty for the most consistent results.
- Work It Off:
Maintaining your exercise routine is key to keeping weight off this time of year. Because there are so many food-centered events, it's important to balance that out with physical activity. Working out early in the morning is the best way to ensure you eat well through the remainder of the day.
- Bring A Dessert:
Sweet treats can pile on the calories. By volunteering to bring a dessert to holiday parties and family gatherings, you can guarantee there is a healthy, low-calorie option for you to enjoy. And those who are also watching calories will be grateful as well.
It may sound counterproductive, but eating steady meals throughout the day when you know you have a bigger meal coming up will actually help you from overindulging all at once.
- Shift Your Focus:
Instead of focusing on the food, try socializing more at parties and family gatherings. By engaging in conversation more, you will be distracted and stay away from those unnecessary calories.
Start in the grocery store
One of the most useful tools for healthy grocery shopping is the nutrition label. While some foods—fresh produce, for example—don’t come with a nutrition label, you can use it to your advantage when shopping for boxed, bagged or canned items. If you’re not sure what everything on the label means, use this guide to make healthy grocery shopping easier than ever.
Short ingredients list
Avoid buying over-processed foods with more than five ingredients. Also, stay away from foods with hydrogenated oil at all costs! Partially or fully hydrogenated oils are trans fat culprits, which is why you shouldn’t eat them.
For healthy grocery shopping, avoid high fructose corn syrup, a product that is worse for you than granulated sugar, as well. Enriched flour, which turns to sugar in your body, is another ingredient to avoid.
If the label says a serving has only 2g of fat, you may feel pretty good about it. However, if the serving size is two cookies and you regularly indulge in five or six, you’re eating well over 2g of fat. To keep your healthy grocery shopping efforts alive at home, try to follow the recommended serving size.
Also be wary of the claim that a product has 0g of trans fat per serving. It might still have .4g of trans fat, which translates to much more if you eat over the serving size. If hydrogenated oil is on the ingredients list, rest assured that there’s at least a trace of trans fat in the food.
Have you ever tried to read to the end of an ingredients list and found yourself stumbling over 22-letter words? Natural ingredients are easy to say—whole wheat, rice, sea salt, peanuts, baking soda—but when you get into words that end with -ate and -ide, you’re in trouble. The best thing to do when you come across ingredients like “sodium acid pyrophosphate” and “distilled monoglycerides” is to set the product down and move on.
Fiber and sugar
Products flaunted as healthy—such as protein bars and organic granola—can easily have as much sugar as a bowl of ice cream. To counteract the effects of sugar in a product, it should have an equal amount of fiber. Because it’s so good for your heart, the more fiber there is the better.
Don’t forget the fitness
A combination of shorter days, cooler temperatures and irresistible holiday goodies makes winter the most difficult time of year to exercise regularly. However, just because the ground might be frozen, that’s no reason to give exercise the cold shoulder. Here’s how to stay motivated to exercise during winter so you don’t lose the progress you have made so far this year.
- Check in:
Foursquare, a popular mobile app, tells your friends where you are. Check into the gym on your way home from work. Then, to prevent the check-in from being a lie, you’ll have no choice but to actually go.
- Track your fitness goals:
Mobile apps, including the Nike Running App and Fitocracy, help you chart your progress. When you see how far you have already come, it’s easier to stay motivated to go a little further.
- Set goals:
Establish a short-term goal such as running a mile on the treadmill every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Reward yourself along the way with something small, and treat yourself to a larger reward at the end of the entire goal period. Just make sure the rewards aren’t fattening foods.
- Schedule workouts like actual appointments:
This technique helps you work around your workout schedule and ensures you won’t bail at the last minute.
- Play your favorite upbeat tunes:
Don’t allow yourself to listen to some of your favorite jams unless you’re working out. You’ll look forward to your workouts, and may even find your endurance climbing as you exercise to the beat of fast-tempo tunes.
- Sign up for something fun:
If running isn’t for you, find another way to get your heart rate up. Even in the winter, there are plenty of options: dancing, Zumba, yoga, martial arts, swimming and spinning classes with your best friends are just a few ideas.
CareNow® can help with physicals and testing
If you have questions about healthy living, consider visiting your local CareNow®. At CareNow®, our independent practitioners provide a full range of primary and urgent care services. One of our board certified family medicine providers can diagnose your illness and determine the best antibiotic to treat you.
Be sure to check in online to avoid the waiting room!
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.
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