Sugar and Spice Advice – Fighting holiday weight gain

Turkey and stuffing
Turkey and stuffing

Fall is here and seems to be the start of the holiday season. All those trick or treat candies – yum. Then Thanksgiving with turkey, stuffing, more stuffing, and pumpkin pie. December is one day of goodies after another. Weight gain for the holidays? You bet. Many people find that a couple or 3 pounds have crept on. Is it possible to go through the holidays and not pack the pounds on? Yes, it can be done by making some wise choices like those listed below.

Here are some of the culprits with some of the cures:
Culprit: Too busy or too much sedentary time. Even if you exercise regularly it does not cancel out the negative effects of sitting.
Cure: Get moving. If you have a desk job frequently stand or walk around. Do jumping jacks during commercials. Limit your screen time to two hours a day or less. Choose active video games.

Culprit: Too little sleep. Late night parties, early trips to the store for last minute sales, Black Friday shopping at 4 am, food preparation, and so on. Sleep deprivation can disrupt your body rhythms, hunger patterns, and hormone balance. A study done by the National Sleep Foundation found that 2 of out every 10 Americans sleep less than six hours of night.
Cures: Exercise and decaffeinate. Here we are back to exercise again. It works though. Working out or taking a moderately paced walk can release some pent up tension, tire your muscles, and help you sleep well. Coffee, teas, colas, and drinks like Monster and Red Bull, etc. can keep you up at night and increase your anxiety level. If you can’t give up these beverages at least don’t drink them within a few hours of bed time.

Culprit: Stress. Stress, what stress? There is none during the holiday season. That’s an obvious falsehood. Normally people experience varied levels of stress on any given day. Traffic, the weather, family issues, work, etc., but the holidays seem to pump the stress level off the charts. Cooking and baking, preparing for company, standing in the world’s longest grocery checkout line, getting the Christmas cards out in time, making or finding the perfect Halloween costume or turkey, and on and on… When stress is chronic it can lead to overeating and unhealthy food choices. There certainly are plenty of tempting foods around the holidays. Easy to indulge in, right?

Cures: Simplify and relax. Simplify. Is it really going to ruin your Halloween if you buy a pre-made costume instead of sewing one? Do you have to make all the Thanksgiving side dishes? No, you don’t. Share the cooking with guests who are coming to dinner. Most people I know want to bring something to the meal. It really isn’t necessary to make 10 varieties of cookies and candies by hand. Every year my mom would start a couple of weeks before Christmas and make one type of goody per day and then freeze them to be thawed out for Christmas Eve. I don’t remember her pulling her hair out over the baking. She did one treat per day and I helped. It’s not going to show that you are less of a holiday person if you cut your baking in half. Don’t rush out at the last minute to buy Halloween candy or Christmas presents. Plan ahead or better yet let the internet work for you. Many companies will not charge shipping and handling.

Relax. The idea of relaxing seems silly during the holiday months. How can I relax? My To Do List is as long as Santa’s list of who’s been naughty or nice. With the rush it is hard to make time to relax. Maybe you’ll have to put it on your To Do List as a priority item. Running on empty can slow you down, lead to a decreased immune system which can lead to getting a cold. Being ill will definitely slow you down. Find what works for you. Meditation, journaling, a cut of hot chocolate when the children are in bed, or my favorites: a hot bubble bath or a massage. Ahhhh! I can feel the stress melting away already.

Enjoy these holiday months. Enjoy time with your family and friends. Don’t run around frazzled and cranky. Keep it simple, take care of yourself, plan what you will eat and toss in a little exercise. I guarantee you that you feel more energy in the long run and appreciate your holidays more.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

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