Ah, wintertime. The time of natural gains. It's cold, you're inside, and the gym seems to be a little too difficult to get to. Not to mention, there's the 'Rona out there in the wide world! So, are you doomed to get bad gains this holiday season? Nah, let's look at some ways to play it healthy!
Don't do it! It may seem like a natural way to cut calories out of your feasting days. However, breakfast is probably the only meal you'll have complete control of. The reason for eating a healthy breakfast is twofold. First, a healthy breakfast will help your body better regulate blood sugar. This will decrease the chances of that ever-dreaded sugar spike that leaves you feeling ravenous soon after eating everything on Mamaw's counter! Secondly, you'll actually be a bit more full when staring down all of those empty-calorie appetizers as you wait for the main feast to begin.
The best way to tackle your breakfast on feast days is to either go for slow-digesting fiber such as oatmeal or to go with slow-digesting protein such as smoked salmon. You'll also want to throw in the antioxidant power of some fruit and berries if possible. I'm sure you'll be consuming some foods that tend to inflame later!
Reach for the Veggies First!
Alright, it's game time! The moment you've been waiting for! Grab your plate, fight your way to the front of the line, and start scooping. However, start scooping the Brussels sprouts! Or green beans, or asparagus, or whatever veggie really. Again, there are a couple of reasons for this. First off, if you go into your feasting with health on the brain, you'll actually end up making better choices by the time you roll around to Aunt Mildred's potato casserole.
I hear that stuff has no less than 1/3 of the country's butter in it and enough condensed soup to feed a family of four for at least a month.
The second point is that veggies tend to take up more room on your plate for fewer calories than some of the more "dense" offerings that pop up around the holidays.
Also, Eat the Veggies First.
That's right, eat them first thing. Veggies consist of fiber, and fiber makes us full. The other thing that fiber tends to do is to stick around for a while! That means we won't be able to throw down half a pie after gorging ourselves. A slice, sure! Everything in moderation, including moderation!
Pumpkin pie is also the most American pie. Fight me.
What's with all of the mushy food?
I'm not sure what it is, but holiday treats seem to be on the soft side. Much like our middles around this time of the year, right? Think about it, though. All of the holiday casseroles, pies, cookies, and treats take less masticating than any other meal we might have normally consumed the rest of the year.
What's the point here? Eat crunchy foods! It'll take you longer to eat, and thus your body will have time to tell your brain that your tummy's full up! That lonely veggie tray over in the corner of the counter could use some love.
How about actually talking to your family?
I know. I know! However, there's every chance in the world that the initial small talk will fade into something of more substance. Plus, one of your family has to be into something cool. Maybe it's you!
Suppose you do decide to tread the delicate minefield of political, social, and potentially hazardous subjects, then good on you. However, even if you keep the subject light, you'll have more time between bites. It takes your body about 20 minutes to let you know that it's full. So, while you may risk learning more about your uncle's conspiracy theory on why plants are listening to us, you may also learn something cool about a member of your family that has been waiting to be able to share
On top of that, you'll end up eating slower and enjoying your food more!
Hydration is key!
Staying hydrated is essential for not overeating. About 60% of the time, we grab a snack when we should have grabbed a glass of water! So, make sure to keep some tea, water, or holiday punch in hand while mingling in the kitchen. You're sure to take in less when you hydrate more!
The after-dinner activity!
This is a big one in my family.
For Easter, we have the Eggstravaganza Olympics. We pit family vs. family in a winner takes all Easter-themed Olympics.
For Thanksgiving, it's either a walk in the woods or blasting clay pigeons from the sky with some Remington broomsticks!
We hand out presents for Christmas and excitedly cheer on our younger members as they rip into their gifts. Then we immediately head to whatever area of the yard/house we need to go to watch the kids play with said toys.
The main point is that you need to get active after such delicious noshing
Don't restrict yourself. (Within reason.)
Seriously, this is a thing. If you see a cookie that's calling your name, eat it with maniacal glee. Then, be done with the moment. More often than not, denying a craving for snacks leads to further cravings and eventual binging.
Other than these things, get your sleep, keep your stress to a minimum, drink tea, read books, and enjoy your holiday. Your health is entirely up to you, and you know your body better than anyone else. So, eat well, celebrate well, and be well!
Merry Christmas, and happy holidays from the Vegan Pauper