Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Keeping the Weight Off During the Holidays

By Michelle M. Dillon, ND

It's that time of year again when everyone is rushing from store to store at the mall, getting stressed out about over-priced gifts for family and friends. Then we gather together in the homes of those same family and friends to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. These homes will often have beautiful platters overflowing with special treats lying in wait to tempt us into overindulging. When we give in (which is so easy to do) we end up packing on the pounds.

Keeping off those pounds is sometimes harder than finding just the right gift for Aunt Sally. Here are a few tips to help you navigate your way through eggnog, gingerbread, Christmas cookies, and sweet potato pie without expanding your waistline:

1. Never, Ever, Ever go to a dinner party or get-together when you are hungry enough to eat one of Santa's reindeer. The best thing to do is to eat a large apple and drink two glasses of water right before you leave for the party. Some people have the strategy that if they starve themselves all day long, they can gorge themselves later and be OK. This is faulty thinking. If a person does not eat all day their blood sugar will drop and their hunger will increase, often to ravenous proportions. When we are super hungry we tend to super-size what would have been a normal portion size. Extreme hunger from starving ourselves all day often leads us to the heavy, fat-laden foods, not the light snacks like celery, carrots, or fruit. So, make sure you do not starve yourself on the day of the party.

2. Start with vegetables and healthy snacks first. Research shows that when eating with a large group of people, we tend to eat more and for a longer duration of time. Therefore, we need to start with the good stuff, or should I say, the healthy foods like salad. Fill your plate with salad, skipping any creamy dressings, and vegetables first. Then add lean proteins like turkey, chicken or lean beef, followed by heavier foods like ham and the side dishes we all love so much. If you fill up on the healthy veggies... you won't be tempted to eat as much of those cheesy casseroles! Potatoes and bread should be avoided, as these are high in carbohydrates which pack on those pounds.

3. Use a smaller plate. Using a smaller plate keeps those portion sizes smaller, and therefore keeps your waist where you'd like it.

4. Be sure you are hydrated! If you are dehydrated your body may trick you into thinking that you are actually hungry. Each day we need to drink half our body weight in ounces of water. So, if a woman weighs 140 pounds she needs to drink 70 ounces of water each day to remain properly hydrated. If she has a cup of coffee, tea, or a glass of wine, she must have an additional 8 ounces of water per cup or glass of each. Coffee, tea, and alcohol are all diuretics. Diuretics dehydrate. This means that the more of these beverages a person consumes, the more they will become dehydrated. The more dehydrated they are the more they are likely to eat - so beware and drink your water!

5. Get your rest and manage that stress! Studies show that those who do not get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, have a higher level of a stress hormone, called Cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that regulates our bodies' energy, along with our blood sugar levels. If it is imbalanced due to lack of sleep or on-going stress, it can actually cause weight gain. The best way to keep Cortisol in balance is to get enough sleep and to manage our stress. Find ways to take a break during the day: pray, call a friend, take a walk, hit the gym, or just focus on breathing deeply and contemplating the blessings God has given over the last year.

Remember to keep focusing on the Reason for this Christmas Season. Be mindful of these few tips for enjoying the holiday and keep moderation as your key and it should make a healthy combination for a slimmer you come the New Year (and maybe you won't have to make that same New Years resolution on January 1st).

Be blessed and may Christ fill your heart with His love and hope this Holiday Season.

Michelle M. Dillon earned her doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. She specializes in women's health, using all natural alternatives to conditions like PCOS, infertility, and weight loss. A mom herself she understands the implications of what women put themselves through as mother's and how it plays a role in their health. She feels that her practice is God's calling for her life and feels blessed to be able to do so. Her private practice is in Charlotte, North Carolina where she lives with her husband and daughter. Visit her website at www.DrMichelleDillon.com for more information.