By Akoto DerGross – Certified Weight Loss Expert
It’s that time of the year again when we get to share our cheer, warmth and love with our loved ones. It’s also a time of the year when extra calories lurk around every corner — frosted cookies at the office, cakes and doughnuts from colleagues, several Christmas parties, company dinners; the list is endless. All these extras add up, and if you are like most people, you will put on a kilo or two by New Year’s Day. Studies show that most people never lose their Christmas weight gain which adds up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.
But you don’t have to fall into this trap. It is very possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on extra kilos. Here are 10 simple yet effective ways to help you stay fit and healthy this Christmas while avoiding extra weight gain.
- Portion Control
The first key to avoiding weight gain this festive season is to control your portions. Though not an easy thing to do due to endless temptations, portion control is the key. Christmas presents many opportunities to eat but with the right strategies, you can avoid extra pounds. For example, don’t go to a party on an empty stomach. If you are, then drink lots of water to fill up before filling your plate. Use a small plate during buffets and make healthy choices. Instead of fried foods, aim for foods that are grilled or boiled.
- Limit Alcohol and Soft Drinks
Alcohol play a big part in Christmas weight gain especially at holiday parties and visits. Not only are they packed with calories; excessive intake can lead to being out of control and not enough control over what you eat as well. Soft drinks are also high in calories and contribute a lot to weight gain especially in the belly area. Several studies have linked the increased consumption of soft drinks to type 2 diabetes.
- Drink Lots of Water
Keeping hydration levels up will help boost metabolism, keep energy up and even regulate hunger levels and food cravings. Water also helps eliminates waste from your body. Aim for 48-64 oz. a day. That is between 8 to 10 glasses per day. The more the better.
- Limit Processed Meat Such as Sausages & Choose Lean Protein
Christmas festivities often presents a lot of opportunities to consume processed meat out of proportion. A few weeks ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that processed meat such as sausages, bacon, beef burger, hot dogs, salami, corned beef, and ham do cause cancer. The high sodium and fats contents of processed meats also makes them high in calories and therefore high contributor to increased waist lines. Choose lean proteins instead such as fish, chicken or turkey. Remember to cut the fat off meat or remove the skin from chicken.
- Cut Back on Processed Carbs such as Rice
For most Ghanaians, rice is the most popular food staple during Christmas festivities. I would prefer we eat more potatoes since they are natural and have less calories. Rice has no fiber and are particularly VERY high in calories and so they contribute a lot to weight gain. This Christmas, aim for foods with high fiber such as vegetables. Even if you will still eat rice, make it brown rice and add a lot of the vegetables. That way, you will be fuller longer while staying on a low carb diet.
- Limit ‘Tasting’ While Cooking
If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, limit your tasting while cooking. Tasting a lot of times while cooking increases your overall caloric intake since you will eat again during the meal time. This can easily result into weight gain as you will do a lot of cooking during the festive season. Instead of tasting mindlessly every few minutes, limit yourself to two small bites of each item pre- and post-seasoning. Just taste a little bit. Tasting shouldn’t be grounds for a big scoop. For tried and true recipes, dare yourself not to taste the dish at all until it is served.
- Monitor Your Weight
Weight gain happens so fast. Before one knows it, the extra kilos are already on. Monitoring your weight will therefore ensure that you stay on track. Check your weight at least twice a week. Also check your clothing. Once it begins to get tighter, that should be a sign to reduce caloric intake and increase activity levels.
- Limit Outings
Holiday seasons comes with lots of invitation to attend parties, brunches and events. All of these occasions presents opportunities for eating and drinking, thereby piling up extra calories. You must therefore be selective of these events. Learn to say NO to some of them. Only attend the most important ones and still apply some of things I mentioned earlier such as arriving half-full and being selective with the food choices.
- End the night with a cup of Green Tea
Some say green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet. Green teas are loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body. This includes improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other incredible benefits. Several studies show that green tea leads to decreased body fat, especially in the abdominal area and can help calm stomach muscles.
- Keep Up Some Activity
Finally, get yourself involved in some form of activity even if it is just walking for 10 minutes or a quick jog in your neighborhood. This will help to burn off extra calories and also help boost your metabolism. Activity also improves brain and heart functions as well as aids free vowels. There’s something about activity that puts you in control. A recent study showed that people who exercised early in the morning responded less to tempting foods. Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to stay in bed all day or in the couch watching soaps and eating pop-corn and drinking soda. Especially on days when you overindulge, you must get those activity levels up.
I hope these tips help you stay fit and healthy this holiday season. Let me use this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. May 2016 bring us closer to God and to our dreams. God Bless!
About the writer:
Akoto DerGross is a Certified Weight Loss Expert and Founder & CEO of Fat2Fit Ghana, a weight management organization committed to helping people lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Having gone from 130kg to 65kg, DerGross has developed a passion to motivate others achieve their health and weight loss goals. He is author of “7 Simple Steps to Losing Weight”, a book that shows how he overcame obesity and how others too can overcome. He blogs about the dangers of obesity and the importance of a healthy-active lifestyle on www.fat2fitghana.com. He has appeared on several media platforms including Joy, Citi, Star fm, GTV and Viasat 1 to share his inspiring weight loss story. DerGross is a YALI and Hesselbein fellow, an alumnus of Go Africa, Go Germany and holds a masters in international Law & Business from Germany.