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How to recover from a holiday eating binge

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on November 30, 2010 with No Comments

Through much of our nation’s history, few people had to worry about gaining excess weight from holiday feasts.

During most of the year, they lived on a subsistence diet: Starches such as bread or rice, in-season fruits and vegetables, occasionally a little meat. So at Thanksgiving and Christmas, they could afford to stuff themselves with “treat” foods such as turkey, dressing, plum pudding, mince pies and fruitcake.

Today, of course, we have the opposite problem: a year-round over-abundance of food, and an epidemic of obesity. In addition, we have a holiday season that now stretches from Halloween until New Year’s Day, when countless millions of us resolve to lose the extra pounds we gained from all those family and office parties, cocktail parties, open houses and cookie exchanges.

If overindulging during the holidays has padded your belly, butt and thighs – and left you with a wardrobe that is at least one size too small – do not despair. You can get back to your pre-holiday weight or better.

Here are 10 immediate steps you can take to recover from a holiday binge:

•1. Toss the tempting treats. Either give away or throw out any remaining high-calorie foods such as pies, cakes, eggnog, cookies or and candy. If you cannot bear to part with certain foods, store them in the freezer for later use.

•2. Stock up on healthy foods. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, which helps fill you up and keeps your digestive system moving. Unlike sugary foods, these high-fiber foods do not cause the blood-sugar spikes and crashes associated with overeating. Other good choices include lean proteins such as fish, chicken and turkey – minus the gravy. Eating such foods can help cleanse your entire system of the after-effects of holiday overindulgence.

•3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Most people do not get enough. Aim for five to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Pick produce in a variety of colors to get a range of antioxidants and vitamins. A serving size is 1/2 to 1 cup depending on the fruit or vegetable.

•4. Drink plenty of fluids. Six glasses of water per day also keeps your digestive system moving and helps relieve the bloating caused by too much holiday sugar, fat and salt.

•5. Prepare for sugar cravings. After coming off a holiday binge, it is not uncommon to crave cookies, candy and other sweet treats. To get your fix, reach for sweet fruits such as apples, oranges and berries, or drink a diet soda.

•6. Get moving. If you avoided your regular exercise routine during the holidays, ease back into it, starting with 20-30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking. If you continued to exercise during the holidays and still gained weight, add an extra 10-15 minutes of exercise to your daily routine. If you gave up exercising years ago, or have never exercised, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

•7. Continue healthy eating. Avoid treats, including alcoholic beverages, which only add empty calories. Focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.

•8. Aim for a healthy weight loss. Most experts recommend a diet-and-exercise plan that results in a weekly weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds. You can lose 1 pound per week by cutting 500 calories per day from your usual diet. You can lose 2 pounds per week by cutting 500 calories per day from your usual diet and by taking four 45- to 60-minute brisk walks each week.

•9. Think long-term. Your odds of success are higher if you make permanent lifestyle changes. Instead of focusing on an outcome goal such as “lose 20 pounds,” focus on a process goal such as “eating healthy” or “exercising regularly.” A process goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and trackable – meaning that you can record your actions and weight-loss results in a journal.

•10. Prepare for inevitable setbacks. Do not beat up on yourself if you eat a bag of potato chips or miss a workout. Just resolve to do better the next day. If you can maintain a healthy lifestyle, you will soon shed those holiday pounds, look and feel better and establish a foundation to prevent another weight gain when the next holiday season rolls around.

This information was provided by Life Line Screening, an organization whose mission is to make people aware of unrecognized health problems and encourage them to seek follow-up care with their personal physician. Fore more information, visit www.lifelinescreening.com.

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