It is that time of the year when your calendar revolves around parties, dinners, holidays, friends, family and food, food and more food! But unlike last year, you don’t have to start the year with the extra 10 pounds around your waist. Avoid the Holiday Fat Gut. Here’s how:
Be a Food Snob: Scientists divide people into 3 categories based on their taste sensitivity. Super-tasters (ST; an estimated 25% of the population) are the bunch who have more number of tastebuds on their tongue and generally avoid foods whihc are too sweet or have too much fat. A little goes a long way for them. Similarly, the Medium-tasters (MT; 50% of the population) and Non-tasters (NT), are likely to ‘try’ more foods because their palate is ok with most foods.
The holiday season is a disaster for NTs and MTs. A study in 2013 confirmed the problems of MTs and NTs when it came to buffet meals (Ref1). They noted the dietary intake of young lean women over buffet courses versus meals with less variety. The MTs and NTs consumed an extra ~250kcal per day in the buffet setting. They took more servings of sweet and high fat (or energy dense) food than the STs.
Surely you cannot go from being a NT to ST, it is like trying to change the color of your skin. Not possible. But food has more elements to it than just taste – there is texture, smell, temperature. By making you a food snob, I am telling you to be more discerning in the food that you accept to eat. Be mindful of when you are likely to overeat. In short, be a fussy eater and only eat the things you really REALLY love.
Have your dinner before you leave your house. This is a super smart move. If not full dinner, have a snack before you leave for the party. This way you will not be ravenous when the snacks are served and it will make you stronger in your resolve to practice your food snobbery. 😀
Do NOT skip your exercise routine. Even if you can’t go to the gym, take 10-15 minutes to complete a stretch routine and a few body weight exercises. It will help you burn calories and also lift your mood for the rest of the day.
Related: What You Can Do in 10 Minutes
Related: HIIT challenge for your holidays
Keep active through the day and plan your time with friends and family engaged in activities instead of just sitting around the dinner table. You can go bowling, skating, walking in the mall or outdoors, dancing, et al.
Drink in moderation. December is full of parties. Alcohol is a regular feature of the night. You might start the night with good intentions but as the bottle empties and good spirits take over, you lose count of your drinks. The trick is to remember to have a glass of water when you start buzzing and go easy after. Take only 1 or 2 drinks after the buzz has hit you. Slow down and start sipping instead of gulping. 🙂
Read: The Smart Way to Drink Alcohol
Avoid drinking on consecutive days as this will allow your body to recover and flush out the effects of alcohol from your system. Consider the day after a mini detox day.
You are not hungry, you are thirsty! It is common for people to lower their water intake during winters. This is because a lot of us rely on feeling thirsty to replenish our water reserves. Also a lot of people mistake their body’s need for water, as hunger. Wow, seriously drink up!
This fake hunger and the holiday delicacies together will make snacking seem irressitable. Be smart and stay hydrated. A fail proof method to know your hydration levels is to rely on the colour of your pee! It should be light yellow.
Remember, be choosy with your food, eat beforehand, be active, drink in moderation and keep hydrated. The weighing scales cannot win! 😀
Keep Healthy. All the best!
Ref1: Shafaie Y, et al. Energy intake and diet selection during buffet consumption in women classified by the 6-n-propylthiouracil bitter taste phenotype. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Dec;98(6):1583-91