Here are my top 5 holiday diet downfalls. Did you know that the average person only gains somewhere between one and three pounds over the holiday season? Doesn't sound like that big of a deal, right? The problem is those pounds never go away. A couple pounds every year multiplied by several years is how we slowly but surely become overweight, and ultimately obese. Here are five diet downfalls and what you can do to avoid them this holiday season.
1. Eating Too Late
Eating too close to bedtime is one of the fastest ways to pack fat onto your body. Often times, we find ourselves at a party or another social event long after the dinner plates have been cleared away from the table. If you're within three hours of bedtime, or if it's really late in the evening, try to stay away from food. If you absolutely can't hold out, try to make your selections wisely (fresh vegetables, fruits or maybe a small handful of mixed nuts). When we eat just before we go to bed, our body has a tendency to store extra calories as fat (even if they're fat free calories). The smartest thing to do is to stop eating after dinner. If you'll be out late, drink plenty of water - especially if you'll be having a couple drinks.
2. Dessert for Breakfast
Super sugary sweet food is all around us over the holidays. These decadent indulgences are even pushed at us early in the morning. Specialty coffee drinks, muffins, scones, syrup-laden pancakes, cinnamon rolls...or even that small slice of pie that was leftover from dinner last night - all of these are essentially desserts. That said, all of these are commonly eaten in the morning. When your body starts the day off with a huge dose of sugar, it's difficult to get things back on track throughout the rest of the day. I find that my clients who eat a high sugar/high carb breakfast (yes, sometimes even very low in fat) are famished by the time lunch rolls around. Their blood sugar has dropped like a bomb, so they eat a little more than they normally would. Eating more throws off their blood sugar levels again, which makes them famished by the time they leave the office, or a couple hours before dinner. The message: steer clear of desserts for breakfast, and if you're going to have something sugary, don't overdo it.
Important to know: every gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. Where do those calories go? If you drink too much, probably your butt or stomach. Drinking too much or drinking too frequently is a quick way to sabotage your diet for two reasons. #1: Your body doesn't need this particular type of calorie. Yes, moderate consumption of certain alcohol can be beneficial, but no one should ever start drinking for their health. #2: Your inhibitions drop when you drink. Strictly speaking about food, we tend to eat more after we've had a couple drinks. If you fall into the habit of doing this one or two days a week for four weeks, don't be surprised if your jeans start feeling a little snug.
Winter days are short, particularly through December. In comparison to the summer months, we lose several hours of daylight. This, combined with a busier schedule can lead to less purposeful activity. Translation: we don't workout as much. Schedule time for your workouts before the week begins. Don't have a place to workout, or bored with your current routine? December is the BEST month to test drive different places to get fit! A lot of facilities offer complimentary first visits. See what's out there. Check out the rest of my blog for tips of Chicago fitness facilities. Get moving and don't use the shorter days as an excuse to become sedentary.
5. Skipping Meals
I've had many, many clients fall into the habit of skipping meals, often times because they overate earlier that day - or even the day before. Regardless of what your reasons are for skipping meals (busy work schedule, guilt about over eating, unhealthy dieting), don't do it. Food stokes the furnace that is your metabolism. If you don't eat regularly (every 3 to 4 hours), the furnace cools off and your metabolism slows down. Unfortunately, our body - and all of our stress hormones - perceives this as threat. When we DO eat again, food will more likely be stored as fat and not used as energy. Bottom line: if you overindulged at dinner last night and don't think you should eat breakfast today, you're making a mistake. Eat something healthy, with a little bit of protein and fat. Stay away from sugar, and your body will get back on track.
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Traci is a nationally recognized health and fitness expert who has been featured on The TODAY Show and Dr. Oz. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and wellness coaching, as well as private training. Contact Traci here.