The Christmas holiday spirit is just around the corner and everyone is now busy preparing for reunions with family and friends. And what better way to prepare the celebration is to have a feast! What is Christmas anyway without the parties? The bulge and the extra fat that we get after these merry making activities is what makes us feel guilty enough to make us vow to do better on our Annual New Year’s resolutions.
So how can one avoid gaining weight during the holidays? Common sense advise is to keep in mind to always keep track of the calories we take in. But most of all, in situations where food is in abundance in the buffet table…my advise is to enjoy the foods that are nutrient rich but modestly high in protein (20 to 25% of the total calories) and low in carbohydrates (40% to 45% of total calories).
The fad of low carbohydrate and high protein diet has put protein at the center stage. Since the Atkins Diet and the South Beach diet came into our attention, a lot of controversies has been made because of the absence of long term studies to document their efficacy and safety. Recent data however have shown that a moderate intake of protein is not only efficacious in making one lose weight but also in improving blood sugar and cholesterol.
Protein intake is important to our body. If we don’t get enough protein- it can lead to growth failure, loss of muscle mass, a reduction in heart and lung function as well as impairment in ones immunity. However, too much protein can also cause harm. It can take a lot of calcium from the bone and can lead to fractures. Likewise, people with kidney disease should be warned about a high protein diet since it can further exacerbate the kidney problem.
Let me give you some tips on how to enjoy the benefits of a modestly high protein diet SAFELY….
Remember…different protein sources give different effects on our health. Proteins coming from vegetables definitely are healthier because they are devoid of fat than those coming from meat. A steak and a salmon may have the same amount of protein but the saturated fat in beef is more than half that of the fish. It is the FAT that can cause harm and can lead to chronic disabling conditions like heart attack and stroke!
Here are some Tips in Choosing Your Protein Sources wisely:
1. If you are a meat lover then get the lean cuts of beef or pork. However a healthier alternative would be the white meat of fish and chicken breast.
2. A better option for a healthier protein source would be from vegetable sources like nuts, lentils, beans and whole grain.
3. For your daily protein needs, get them from different sources…mix and match for variety!
4. Soy based foods are also good alternatives to red meat but limit to 2 to 3 servings a week.
Lastly… simple lifestyle measures that you can observe during parties or in preparation for the holiday parties that can matter most in avoiding weight gain:
1. Always eat breakfast everyday of your life. If you haven’t done so regularly…do it now! Avoid skipping meals as this habit can cause more weight gain!
2. Begin your meals with soup or salad to lessen your cravings for the sinful fat filled dishes on the buffet table.
3. Try to eat slowly by chewing your food thoroughly so your body will have time to analyze that you are already full.
4. Once full then stop and walk away from the sight of food. This habit will make you avoid getting more food even if you are no longer hungry!
5. Use a smaller plate so it will look full with only a small amount of food.
A nutrient rich meal that has a modest increase in protein content and a modest restriction of carbohydrates coupled with simple practical lifestyle measures can go along way in helping us avoid the holiday bulge!