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Four Ways to Avoid Holiday Overeating

Four Ways to Avoid Holiday Overeating

holiday overeating

    The season is upon us: vodka-fueled work parties and pretending you love your coworkers. The stretch from Thanksgiving to New Years is a virtual onslaught of calories and if not managed well can put a roadblock in front of all the great work you’ve done with your health. So dust off your ugly Christmas sweater and grab a ‘nog-based beverage as I show you four ways to help avoid holiday overeating!

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    1. To avoid holiday overeating, slow down when you eat!

    This applies all year round since the faster you eat, the more you will consume before feeling full. When you eat too fast you override the signals from your stomach to your brain that indicate that it is full and has had enough gingerbread for one sitting. The average person eats meals in three to five minutes (sometimes in less time) and this throws the body out of whack. Ideally, you want to take fifteen to twenty minutes to eat to let those signals work naturally. If you’re at a party, be conscious of the time you spend eating because eating too quickly causes you to over-consume as you’ve essentially short-circuited the fullness-signal mechanism. If you’re at a dinner or restaurant, try to be the last one to finish your meal.

    2. Don’t go to events hungry.

    This goes hand-in-hand with point one because when you walk into an event already starving you tend to go into “abominable snowman mode” and decimate whatever helpless food platter stands in your way. Those poor coconut shrimp didn’t even see what hit them! This is similar to why you shouldn’t grocery shop on an empty stomach since you tend to buy what you want now as opposed to later and at parties that have an abundance of undesirable treats this can be a disaster. Make sure to have a good meal beforehand that contains protein, fiber, and healthy fat to help keep you fuller for longer and you’ll avoid eating your weight in Toblerone.

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    3. Start with protein and veggies before hitting the treats.

    If you get to a holiday event and haven’t been able to eat beforehand, do yourself a favor and focus on those foods that promote fullness such as protein and fiber. This way you can tame that hunger beast a bit before it goes wild on a yule log (the cake- not the block of wood for the fire). The other advantage of going for protein and veggies is that it helps stabilize your blood sugar before you descend on the treats. If you go straight for sugar-based choices you can say hello to your good friend the blood sugar spike which will result in the inevitable crash, the craving for more sugar, and the whole vicious cycle kicks in, like the constant regifting of a label-maker. Most every party or function will have some sort of veggie and cheese platter and deli meats, so go for those before you dive headfirst into the chocolate fondue fountain.

    4. Make sure to drink enough water.

    Along with protein, fiber, and healthy fats, water is another thing that helps satiate you. The signal of dehydration can often be  confused with that of hunger, and food can be turned to when a glass or two of water would have done the trick. Go for a glass or two of water before any food comes out and it might not only help with you overeating but help keep you hydrated at the same time. You’re going to need it after the candy cane jello shots!

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    Wrapping it up

    It can be tough to avoid holiday overeating, and one big point I want to, um, point out is that the holidays need to be a time to enjoy yourself and not feel totally deprived. We only live once so we need to enjoy moments with friends and family. Don’t beat yourself up for indulging. It’s important to indulge but not over-indulge. If you’ve been working hard on your health, you don’t want to go off the rails and throw a huge wrench into all the good work you’ve been doing. If your health has been a priority to you the last year, try to make the best choices possible this time of year so that you can keep on rolling with it and not have to be rolled out the door!

    Featured photo credit: OakleyOriginals via flickr.com

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    More by this author

    Jamie Logie

    Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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