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Monday, December 19, 2011

HOW TO NOT GET FAT FOR CHRISTMAS

Hi there!
Half of Gabby has moved to a new kickass website! 

Read this article, in it’s updated version, HERE.
 The page that you are on right now (www.halfofgabby.blogspot.com) is no longer posting new articles and information. Half of Gabby has moved to www.halfofgabby.com and will continue to post new material regularly! In addition, all older articles have been updated on the new site!

~~~






So here we are again... another year gone... another winter upon us. 

Ahhh, the snowy cold outside, the warm cozy inside, the glowing lights, the Christmas spirit... doesn't it just make you wanna cuddle up in a blankie by the fire... and SHOVE SINFULLY YUMMY COOKIES AND GOODIES DOWN YOUR THROAT CONSTANTLY? Ya well, join the club. 


So many clubs to join this time of year. The 'Let's-Eat-Like-Santa' Club. Or the 'Why Not, It's-the-Holidays' Club. Or the 'Oh Well, I'll-Start-Again-on-the-First-of-the-Year' Club. Such easy clubs to join. They're free, they're yummy, and everyone's doing it. Problem is the membership usually doesn't run out after the holidays. Before you know it, you find out you've become the friggin president of this damn club... and it's February. 


The average person gains 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. 


There were years I would've actually been happy to fall into that range. Some years I came out of my Holiday Hogfest sporting close to 15 extra. But then again, I use to eat through my holidays like I was getting paid.



I don't know about you, but my 'Holidays' use to start before Halloween (about the precise moment I bought the Trick-or-Treat candy). All that damn Halloween candy would get my sweet tooth up in a roar and catapult me right into Holiday Mode. You know that Holiday Mode, right? The one that compels you to stock up on crap foods and display them in pretty little crystal dishes on your tables. By the time Halloween comes, you've properly mourned summer ending and you're ready for all the yumminess of fall. Pumpkin pies, spice cake, football parties, baking goodies, get-togethers with tons of naughty food, etc.


My biggest problem in the past was I could not compartmentalize holidays. My holidays ran from Halloween to New Year's and I ate non-stop the ENTIRE time. It gets you into a permanent lifestyle... and it is so difficult to just turn it off come January 1st.

"First we make our habits, then our habits make us," Charles C. Noble

According to researchers at Washington University, only 22% of New Year diet resolutions make it to February. I'm actually surprised the percentage isn't lower given the horrible eating rut we get into over the winter.

It's so important to realize that the holidays should only consist of a few 'bad' meals. Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, and New Year's dinner. That's it.  

Now don't get me wrong, you're gonna be at Christmas parties and get-togethers more than those three days, but you need to look at them like any other time of the year when your trying to make good choices. You don't have to deprive yourself completely. 



You can have a bite here and there of the naughty, yummy foods but you can't eat with reckless abandon every time there's food around. You will pay for it dearly later on. It's so easy to do and yet it's the kiss of death.


And speaking of death...  People with existing heart conditions are FOUR TIMES more likely to have a heart attack after eating a big meal (Study conducted by the U.S. Dept. of Veteran's Affairs).

Gorging can not only put on the pounds but it can potentially be a matter of life and death. Medical professionals, especially ER professionals, can tell you all about 'Holiday Codes'

Holidays are notorious for fatal strokes and heart attacks. 


But even in healthy people, cells that line the blood vessels temporarily function less efficiently after eating a high-fat meal. Repeatedly eating unhealthy year after year will lead to health problems. It's just a matter of when.



Just to give you a better picture of what a large unhealthy meal entails, here's some numbers to think about. Obviously the most famous 'big meal' is Thanksgiving Dinner for most people. However, most people's Christmas Dinner looks just about the same, give or take some different side dishes. Check this out:



The average total calories consumed for JUST the sit-down Thanksgiving Dinner is OVER 2600 CALORIES!!!! 

This does NOT include any of the pre-munchies or picking afterwards!


2600 Calories!!!!
290 grams of carbohydrates!!!!
120 grams of fat!!! ............. FOR ONE MEAL! 



Seriously. OMFG.

Maintaining control over yourself can prove to be very challenging. Everywhere you go, people are putting out evil yummies. You don't have to deprive yourself but you definitely need to pick your calories and indulgences carefully. Every right choice you make matters and adds up. Every calorie you burn and every calorie you turn down, it ALL adds up in your favor. But the other side of it holds true as well. It adds up the other way too. Every wrong choice not only adds up but often leads to another.

"Discipline weighs ounces, regret weighs tons," Author Unknown

SO, WHAT  CAN YOU DO ABOUT THIS?? 

How do you stop the holiday madness and come out of it okay? It really doesn't have to be that hard. It's easier than you think to stay healthy.


HOLIDAY HEALTH TIPS:

1. EXERCISE 


You can't stop exercising just because it's the holidays. 

One of the biggest pitfalls people encounter is that they use all the added holiday chores and shopping as an excuse to skip their workouts. 


This is when you need them the most! If you're gonna be sampling cookies, candies, or Aunt Martha's famous fudge, you need to make sure you keep up on burning calories and staying in your routine.



Giving into the holiday eating paired with stopping your workouts is the double whammy of holiday sabotage. Try to keep your daily routine as close to normal as possible. By doing so, having a holiday indulgence here and there doesn't make a difference.


Exercise puts you in a better frame of mind and will help you deal with the holiday hustle and bustle and added stress that the holiday season always brings. Exercise will also clear your mind and help you make better choices.


2. EAT REGULARLY


Do NOT skip meals! 

This sets you up to be ravenous and ready to scarf down anything that's in front of you. And chances are if you're at a holiday party, what's in front of you is a smorgasbord of high-calorie, ooey gooey temptations. 


We all have done the 'SAVE UP' strategy. 


We don't eat all day in order to 'save up' all our calories because we know we're going to a party or dinner. So we figure if we don't eat all day, we can eat whatever we want later on. This backfires, big time. First, we put ourselves in a mini-starvation mode which makes our body store every single calorie eaten that night as fat. It dumps it all directly into our fat cells. Secondly, we become so famished that the eating never stops. 


We end up consuming twice as many calories than if we would've just ate normally all day long AND came to the party and ate what we wanted to in the first place.

If you show up at a holiday party starving, you're going to eat like an out-of-control maniac all night long. You're not going to be able to listen to your body because all day long you've been dreaming of all the shit you're gonna eat later. And then add a few alcoholic drinks into the mix and any ounce of reason or control you did have is gonzo.

If you eat smaller meals regularly throughout the day, you will not be so hungry when you show up at your function. We tend to pass up bad foods if we're not hungry. And if we do try some desserts or cheesy gooey dips, we eat less. Also, if you're not hungry, you can then eat only what you really look forward to every year, as opposed to anything in front of you.

3. COOK HEALTHY


Just because you're making traditional dishes doesn't mean you have to cook them traditionally. 

There are so many different ways to cook healthier...and no one even notices the difference. Don't tell and they won't know. Swap regular ingredients with healthier choices and substitutes or simply use half-fat ingredients. Google any traditional dish and you'll find hundreds of variations.

HEALTHY COOKING TIPS:

GRAVY: Refrigerate gravy to harden fat and then skim it off. This saves you 56 whopping grams of fat PER CUP!!

STUFFING: Use less  bread and more onions, garlic, celery, and veggies. You can even add cranberries or apples. Use low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth and applesauce for the liquid.

EAT LOTS OF TURKEYRoasted, skinless turkey is an excellent source of protein and is naturally low in fat.

MASHED POTATOES: Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic, garlic powder, or parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.

DESSERTSMake a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute 2 egg whites for each egg in baked recipes. And try topping cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or powdered sugar instead of icing. 

CRANBERRY SAUCEMake your own cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries and stevia.

Did you know that 1 cup of cranberry store-bought sauce has 418 calories? Whereas 1 cup of fresh cranberries has 51 calories (and stevia has 0!).

4. PREPARE FOR EVENTS


Bring something to the party that is healthy. 

Chances are there isn't going to be an overwhelming amount of healthy choices there. Bring your own. My favorite is a yummy shrimp tray. It looks like you're being thoughtful and bringing a fan favorite, but really you are ensuring that you at least have something to munch on. Veggies and fruit trays are also excellent. Or bring a homemade healthy version of chicken buffalo dip with whole grain crackers. There are a gazillion things you could bring.

Also, when eating dinner, load up on the healthier stuff. And BE CHOOSY. Pass up the foods you encounter all year long. Don't fill up your plate with everything. 

Use the 80/20 RULE. Load up 80% of your plate with the healthiest selections and the remaining 20% can be your one or two favorite foods. The one or two things you look forward to every year. 


My favorite meal of the year is on Christmas Eve at my Aunt Marie's for Festa dei Sette Pesci (The Feast of the Seven Fishes) also known as Vigilia di Natale (Vigil of the Nativity). This meal is loaded with yummies but my favs are the fried smelts and the bagna cauda. Two very unhealthy dishes. So I fill my plate with the shrimp cocktail and veggies so that I can indulge. And I skip all the sweets and I drink water. I can make allowances and room for sweets anytime of the year, but my Aunt's bagna cauda, mmm, that is only offered one night a year...so I choose wisely.



5. PREPARE FOR SHOPPING


Always assume you'll be out way longer than you think.

With long lines and store hopping, you'll end up making a day out of it. When facing the masses and getting sucked into the shop-o-rama marathons, you're gonna get tired, get thirsty, and get hungry (not to mention broke). 


BRING SNACKS AND EAT BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOUSE. 

Shove healthy snacks in your purse. And God forbid you have to bring a baby or toddler with you, but if you do and you have a stroller with a storage area, pack a small cooler. Fill it with waters, fruit, nuts, yogurt, etc. I'm not joking. Be smart. If you're not hungry and nibbling on healthy snacks, you won't be tempted by all the yummy smells and temptations at the mall or around town. It's easy to try to 'energize' by stopping in an ice cream shop and taking a little break. I know myself when I walk into the mall, the first thing I smell are those hot cinnamon-sugar roasted cashews and candied pecans. That smell is the devil incarnate. I immediately want to seek and destroy every last one of those suckers. That smell fills up the entire mall and tortures me the entire time I'm there. Before I set foot in that damn mall, I make sure my belly is full.



Another useful tip for shopping is:
 DRESS IN TIGHT-FITTING CLOTHES, SNUG BELTS, and UNFORGIVING CLOTHES. 

It makes overeating EXTREMELY uncomfortable. I'm not saying to wear something that is uncomfortable or too tight for you. I simply mean wear something that will not like a bloated food belly. If you go trekking around in sweat pants or a loose fitting jogging suit, you will be more likely to overeat and gorge when you finally do sit down and eat.



6. TAKE THE FOCUS OFF OF FOOD

Take the time you would normally spend making countless cookies and pies and use it instead by making Christmas crafts, volunteering at a local nursing home or food bank, or simply visiting an old friend or family member you haven't seen in a while. 


Try to capture a deeper meaning of Christmas by doing things you normally would not. My girls and I participate in Operation Christmas Child. It's a wonderful charity where you fill a shoe box with trinkets, small gifts, and hygiene items as well as a personal note and/or pictures and it gets sent to a child in need. My girls love picking out the little gifts and picking out the wrapping paper to wrap the box in. It's a wonderful use of time and teaches the kids about the true meaning of Christmas. We substitute all the time we would normally spend making dozens of different cookies with time shopping for and wrapping our Operation Christmas Child boxes. Keep this charity in mind every year, you can find info by clicking here . My kids are on the look-out for small toys and items all year. They think of the other less fortunate children all year long.


I'm not saying you can't still make Christmas cookies. I'm not THAT crazy. But it doesn't have to be a huge focus

We make cookies every year, but only once. We take one evening and make a batch or two and that's it. We focus on making crafts. My daughters love to hang up their masterpieces all over the house. My girls also love making Christmas cards for everyone and love to help me wrap presents. Of course my girls will grow up looking forward to certain Christmas dishes and desserts, but I don't want them raised with a notion that the holidays are a time to gorge themselves for months on end. I was raised that way. Food is glorified in my family. It took me decades to break the pattern in my head. And I consider myself a 'Foodie in recovery'. It wouldn't take much to get me back to my old ways. It's a constant battle to stay disciplined. But it's worth all the hard work.


The holidays shouldn't be about food. They should be about spending time with family and friends. They should be about taking the time to put an emphasis on what's important and what you're thankful for. It's a time we need to work on slowing down the otherwise fast-paced assembly line routine that has become our Holiday season.

7. DON'T TRY TO DIET OVER THE HOLIDAYS. BE REALISTIC

First off all, you should never 'diet'. Diets don't work. Your aim should be to eat healthy and regularly. But over the holidays, your goal should be to MAINTAIN weight.


If you get to New Year's and haven't gained a pound, consider yourself remarkably dedicated and bad ass.


Don't beat yourself up if you gain a few pounds either. Get back on track ASAP and put the holidays out of your mind. Switch gears immediately and look ahead and THINK SUMMER. It's a lot harder to eat leftover Christmas cookies when your thinking about squeezing your ass into a swimsuit. Leave the staying fat to Santa. Refocus, make a fitness plan, eat healthier...and MOVE DAT ASS.


THE BOTTOM LINE

It's hard as hell, but you must think differently. My problem was never the 10-15 pounds I'd put on over every winter. It was always the fact that come January, I wasn't ready or willing to change my gluttonous ways. And well into springtime, I'd still be racking on the pounds....and still eating like it was Christmas. By the start of summer, I was ready to take the bridge. 


One bad choice makes the next bad choice THAT much easier to make...until that's the only kind of choices you're making. But it works both ways. Every good choice you make, makes the next good choice that much easier to make


Do the best you can. You're human. Try to make the healthiest choices you can and...
Have a Wonderful Holiday Season :)



"Forever on Thanksgiving Day, the heart will find a pathway home." ~ Wilbur D. Nesbit



" One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly." ~ Andy Rooney




Resources:
http://www.nutritionalstrategist.com/info/holiday-meal-statistics-2010.php
www.livestrong.com/article/294773-heavy-meals-heart-palpitations/
http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_eating_diet.htm
http://www.cpmc.org/about/e-health/11-05%20healthy-holidays.html


Want some healthy sweet treats?
Try these recipes!









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*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.

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