Do's and don'ts during the HolidaysBy Linda Ericson // Personal Trainer and Operations Manager at RCSN Fitness December 2017
Needless to say, a single Christmas buffet does not ruin your diet. The fact is that your body does not follow a certain calendar and is therefore as vulnerable as always when it comes to storing excess calories, regardless of how much your Christmas spirit tells you that you are worth them. It is obviously easily done to gain several kilos during the holidays and it is not rarely seen that people spend the following spring trying to get rid of them.
Be merry, but to a certain extent.
As for the actual content of the buffet, there are a few Do’s and Don’ts that may be worth thinking about if your ambition is to keep your conscience somewhat clean. For example, the real food is the last thing you should exclude; foods that are as close to nature as possible such as eggs, turkey, fish, cheese, nuts and berries. As we all know, vegetables contains a lot of vitamins and minerals while keeping calories on the low. Just keep a critical eye on the salads served and make sure that you are not binge eating on the ones that are mixed with creme fraiche or mayonnaise.
For some of us the Christmas ham is the absolute highlight. Unfortunately, every piece tends to be accompanied by a slice of bread, as well as some sweet mustard. In this context I would advise you to at least trim some of the visible fat off the ham and have a quick internal dialogue about whether this small pile of sugary mustard is something that you really need to add.
The list of Do’s consists mainly of salmon, turkey and eggs as these foods contains a fair amount of healthy fats, lots of nutrients, and are filled with protein. Salmon is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Even though the amount of calories varies depending on what you choose to put on your plate, none of these foods or dishes will be a disaster on their own. You can of course enjoy each and every one of them, but with balance and in moderation. If there is one area where it is okay to go more or less bananas it is among brussel sprouts, kale and root crops. Stay away as much as possible from the empty calories.
It is not impossible to finish your meal with something sweet and still be healthy. However, you should beforehand decide what you allow yourself as a treat and the amount. This is to avoid overeating on all the goodies at the dessert table. Pick a handful of nuts or a piece of dark chocolate, preferably 80%, since cocoa contains antioxidants and boosts both energy levels and feelings of satisfaction.
Last but not least: Do not forget about the alcohol. This is a part that contributes with a lot of hidden calories and should for that reason be limited.
Keep a dialogue with yourself about what you actually prioritize and try to slow down the pace when you eat. After all, the brain does not perceive that we are full until after 20 minutes. Avoid starving yourself all day before the gathering just to “afford” the calories. This strategy has probably never proved itself to be successful as it often leads an even bigger intake, not unlikely several thousand calories.
- Eat lots of salad like brussel sprouts and kale
- Eat ham but trim the fat off
- Focus on salmon, egg, and turkey for protein
- Enjoy some nuts and dark chocolate for dessert
- Eat slowly and don’t forget to enjoy!
- Skip heavy salad dressings and mustard
- Watch out for alcohol and sugar sweetened soda
- Try to avoid the candy and cakes
- Don’t starve yourself before the holiday meal
Getting yourself in shape is not done overnight. It takes perseverance, dedication and time - just how much time depends on you and your habits. You might be aiming to improve your physical shape a little faster than normal if you have an event coming up or you can feel the summer just around the corner. Like with almost everything in life, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. No half measures, no short cuts, no extreme fad diets and no four-hour gym sessions. If you want to get in shape fast and stay fit over the long-term, it’s worth forming the correct habits now, so you can take a new recipe for fitness forward with you.
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