Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Optimal Self with Dr. Katherine Birchenough

By Dr. Katherine Birchenough

Most everyone looks forward to holiday festivities and gatherings, but they always seem to center around delicious food and drink! At the same time, we dread the tight jeans and self-loathing that comes around just in time for our New Year’s resolutions. Although most people accept that the holidays inevitably result in up to 10 pounds of extra weight every year, it doesn’t have to be that way! The “winter weight” is not necessarily your fate.

I’d like to give you some tips to help you enjoy yourself this holiday season while defending your health and your sanity. Save those New Year’s resolutions for something more creative.

Think of these tips as “basic training” for the real battle coming up and as general rules for the care and maintenance of a healthy body.

Tip #1: Start cleaning up your diet now.

Don’t wait until after the temptations start! Take a hard look at the contents of your refrigerator and pantry. How much of what fills it is refined, processed, preserved “fake food?” If it has a label with more than a few ingredients, it’s not real food. As a general rule, 80 percent of what you eat should be fresh, whole food that requires refrigeration and preparation other than just a microwave. Your refrigerator needs to be void of anything “prepared,” and that includes the convenient stuff in plastic tubs from your local gourmet market as well as most everything on the inner aisles of the grocery store or in the freezer department. Most of what is stored in your pantry should be whole, unrefined nuts and seeds, grains and legumes, herbs and spices and some key things like canned tomatoes, olives and artichokes. What should not be in there? Jars of juice, boxes of cereal, cookies, macaroni, cake mixes, soft drinks or other junk that is higher in chemicals than actual nutrition. Empty calories do nothing but raise your blood sugar, starting a cascade of inflammation in your body. It’s what you do every day that counts, not a decadent meal or two around the holidays. Eat clean, whole food on the regular, and your system can handle the Christmas casseroles with ease…

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