Sunday, November 11, 2012

Food Facts: Five Hints for a No Weight/Fat Gain Holiday Season

I can't believe Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. Losing power for 11days after Hurricane Sandy really has thrown me off. Like today, I rarely go to the gym on Saturdays - it's too crowded, but without power, it was so dark and cold in the house that getting up & out at 5AM, just wasn't happening.

This morning, I wanted to go to the gym - so I ate a pre-work out meal: cold cereal & fruit, while reading ZITE. ZITE is a free personalized magazine for the iPad. It can be addicting. It's something I don't do too often, 'cause I never have the time and you can get sucked into reading for hours. Because you customize this virtual magazine, every article is like an excitotoxin for your brain, calling you, "Read me, read me. Baby, I got what you want me!" Before you know it your panicking because you should've been somewhere, like an hour ago!

Today was no different, but I did notice a trend in my nutrition and diet section - lots of articles on how not to gain weight through the holidays. Some articles offered good advice, and I thought I'd make an attempt to summarize what I read. So, here goes:
Half-Crazed Runners Five Hints on Eating Healthy Through The Holidays:

1. Arm yourself when eating out. Of course you eat out more often through the holiday season. Friends and/or family comes to visit, your out shopping for gifts, or taking on some volunteer project - whatever - you find yourself, at a restaurant with a glass of wine, beer or Jack, looking at a menu reading the side that has the foods you would never eat, unless of course, it's the holidays. There are lots of ways to keep it honest when you eat out. I love the Apps they make these days that list restaurants, meals, nutrient content, calories, fat, protein, carbs. I listed my favorite Apps in one of my Food Fact Posts. Check them out, they can really help.

2. Portion control: Well you searched & searched those apps, but still couldn't find a similar restaurant or anything that resembles what you wanted to order, now what? Portion control! First, know the difference between serving size and portion. A serving size is usually found on a Nutrition Fact Label, on the side of the cereal, pasta cream container. Serving sizes are given in teaspoons, tablespoons, 1/4, 1/2 or full cup measures, or in fluid ounces - like 4oz or 8oz. Serving sizes can also be given in fractional amounts, like 1/2 a pizza or 1/4 of a pie or cake. Serving size can also be distinct units like one slice of bread or two cookies.  Whereas a portion is the the amount of food that you choose to eat. A portion is the amount that you put on your plate or grab. So, you may take three handfuls of chips - but that could be three times the serving size listed on the bag - unless you got little hands, it may be only be 1/2 of the suggested serving size.
Poor Dooneese. She can only grab a few chips at a time!
A picture speaks a thousand words, and this is one is a great reference illustrating portion sizes:
So, if your out with friends around the holidays, hungry, but don't want that 8oz burger & fries - look over at the kids menu - same food, smaller portions! Now, you can order a 4oz hamburger. If, like me,  your tummy can't handle fries, replace them with grilled veggies or a tossed salad, dressing on the side, of course!

3. Know thyself ...and thy hunger signs. Did you know that:
Light thirst can feel like hunger?
Emotions (any type) can trigger feelings that your hungry?
Being tired, or drained can make you feel hungry?
There are many sides to hunger:
Pre-hunger: About 30minutes before a meal. Feels like you're starting to get hungry. You start thinking about your next snack or meal.
Moderately Hunger: About 30minutes after pre-hunger. Stomach feels empty, and you may hear a slight growl. Your tummy is definitely starting to ask for food!
Starving:  You could & would eat anything. Your dizzy, lightheaded, maybe a little shaky & irritable, you may even have a headache.
Satisfied: Not hungry, anymore. Not bloated. Just content with what you ate.
Full: Stomach is full of food. You may want eat more, but the food doesn't taste as intense or as good as it did when you first started eating. You may feel like you need to take a rest from eating.
Overstuffed: You ate too much and vow that you will never, ever do this again. You may even experience gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn). You feel very bloated.

4. No time to exercise. It can be hard to keep your normal exercise routine around the holidays. Maybe you're out later than usual, and can't get up for that AM workout. Or you have a business dinner, late meeting, whatever - you just can't  get to the gym, on the track, treadmill, road... Make your work outs shorter, but more intense. Did you know that circuit training was designed to help people lose weight, build strength and endurance? Circuit training mixes aerobic and anaerobic training all-in-one, it's a great way to exercise if you are short on time - and it doesn't have to be on the "circuit". All you need is to think of 5- upper-body and 5-lower-body exercises, and two - three core exercises. Circuit training is designed to alternately exercise upper-body and lower-body, with a 15second rest between sets, which can range from 10 to 20reps. Run through a circuit (made up any large upper and lower body muscles) two times and you have a nice little intense aerobic/anaerobic pick-me-up-workout to keep you in shape through the holiday season!

5. Lighten up: So you went a little overboard and still don't have time to exercise ...lighten up, literally. A couple of days of careless eating and drinking does not define your year, or your goals. When possible try to incorporate fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and high fiber/high protein foods with healthy fats. Learn some lean substitutions, too:
Lighten up!
If a recipe calls for 1cup butter, replace 1/2 with applesauce. Instead of fatty beef, use lean beef and trim off the fat. Trim skin from poultry, thicken soups with 1%milk & cornstartch, instead of whole milk. Baste meat with wine, orange or lemon juice, instead of fat drippings. Use spices, instead of salt or fat, to increase flavor. Use less oil when frying by adding a little water, and use a large pot cover to cover the food you are frying to "steam-fry".

That's basically a summation of lots of articles I read, plus some of my own strategies to stay on a healthy path for a No Weight/Fat Gain Holiday Season!
If you have any other hints, share 'em. I'd love to learn more!
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