Sunday, December 1, 2013

How to Gain Weight during the Holidays

Well, it is your adipose tissue's favorite time of the year! Obviously the title of this post is a bit of a joke, but it got your attention didn't it? Here is how you can gain weight during the holidays:

1. Get little or no sleep.
2. Eat lots of Sugar
3. Eat lots of grains, especially gluten grains in highly refined states such as bread and pasta. Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables at all costs.
4. Eat lots of Cheese
5. Make sure to drink a large amount of alcohol, especially in the form highly sugared mixed drink cocktails and beer.
6. Maintain a high stress level
7. Skip breakfast and lunch and gorge on snacks and evening meals.
8. Do not move your body more than you absolutely have to.

You are already doing this on a daily basis? Then the holidays should really help you pack on more pounds! Just think how you will help stimulate your local economy with all those clothes you will need to buy after the holiday, because you do not fit in the ones you already have!

So, if this is not what you want to have happen, here are a few tips on how to avoid weight gain during the holidays. To be honest, this is how we all should live on a day to day basis.

The reason behind these tips is based on sound scientific evidence and a basic understanding of physiology. When you eat something, the nutrition you eat goes into your blood stream, which results in raising your blood sugar levels (also known as blood glucose.) Your body responds to this increased level of sugar by releasing a hormone called Insulin, which basically converts all that sugar and puts it into your blood cells as fat. (again, this is very very simple explanation, you can go to    for a more complete discussion) Stress influences this mechanism, and so does exercise or lack of. Sleep affects this system and what kind of foods you eat affects this mechanism.

Your holiday goal is to make sure you make this system of blood sugar and insulin be even and healthy. When this happens you are less likely to gain weight, and you actually may loose weight during the process.

Here are some tips to keep your blood sugar levels even (fancy term for not gaining weight) during the holidays.

1. Get enough sleep, this means going to bed at 10 pm. Sleep helps reduce stress, and evens out blood sugar levels.
2. Make sure to get in some exercise everyday, go walking for 30 - 40 mins a day MINIMUM.
3. Eat a good breakfast every morning. I suggest eggs or tofu or tempeh with green vegetables and a serving of citrus. (recipe to follow)
4. Eat six small meals per day. This means your three regular meals which should have a serving of protein and at least one serving of leafy green vegetables, and three small snacks which should be a piece of fruit or serving of vegetables, a tablespoon of nuts or seeds. Think FIBER and PROTEIN.
5. Avoid cheese, very high in calories, high in fat and easy to eat lots of at parties.
6. Limit alcohol to one glass of wine, extend it by making your own cooler with club soda and a slice of citrus. You won't look funny at the party without a drink, and can nurse it all night long.
7. Avoid bread of all kinds, crackers and such. Lots of calories. Bread raises blood sugar levels, even whole grain breads. 

8. Bring your own fruit or veggie platters to parties, you will have something to eat and it is a great hostess gift. If you don't have time to make one up, most grocery stores offer pre made ones or you can order one and simply pick it up on the way to the festivity. Make your own dip, or buy a prepared hummus to go with the veggies to save on calories and everyone can enjoy.

Simple Holiday Recipes

Good Breakfast

In a skillet heat up with 1 tbsp sunflower oil. Add 1/4 cup chopped onion, saute till soft, add some chopped tomatoes and saute for about a minute, add 1 - 2 cups spinach or kale, saute adding water or broth if needed until slightly soft. Crack an egg over mixture and stir over medium heat until egg is fully cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Quick breakfast ideas: Boil up a dozen eggs and have on hand in the fridge. Grill tempeh strips on stove top grill have on hand in the fridge. Make up a large portion of cooked spinach or kale with onions and tomatoes to have on hand in the fridge. Heat up the greens in the microwave, peel and crumble egg on top and eat. You can also use the tempeh strips instead of the egg.

Basic Hummus Dip Recipe

1 cup cooked garbanzo or bean of your choice
juice of one lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
salt and pepper
water for thinning 

Put first four ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, adding a teaspoonful of water as needed to get desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with raw vegetables. You can add herbs to this as you like, or use different beans. You can add salsa to this recipe to make a spicy hummus, cilantro, jalapeno, chipotle what ever you like. White beans with basil and sun dried tomatoes is a nice blend, black beans with salsa is another idea.

Spa Ranch Dip

1 Pint fat free Greek yogurt
1 packet of ranch dressing mix

Mix together and let sit for at least 2 hours before serving. Excellent alternative to regular ranch dip. You can make your herb mixture if you like by mixing together 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried dill, 1/4 tsp ground pepper, a dash of cayenne, 1 tsp dried onion flakes and 1/2 tsp thyme. You can also add 1 cup of thawed frozen spinach, 1/3 cup chopped green onion, and 1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts. For those of the lactose intolerant group, substitute 2 packages of silken organic tofu with 1 tbsp sunflower oil, and add juice of 1 lemon to for the Greek yogurt.

So you can see, it may take a bit of effort, but there is no need to gain weight during the holidays. In fact, you can get a start on your new years resolutions and health goals by making this a time to set new behaviors. You will feel great, and won't it be fun to buy new clothes with those gift cards you received because you have lost weight?

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