(BPT) - The holidays are full of fun activities, tasty treats and plenty of celebration, but being busy and eating all the extras can quickly lead to weight gain. With a few key strategies, it's surprisingly easy to enjoy the season to the fullest and still avoid Santa's extra bulge.
Dr. Christopher Mohr is a fitness and nutritional expert who consults for television, print and radio outlets throughout the country. He understands the difficulties of staying health-focused during all the festivities. Mohr offers some good reminders and unique insights on how to avoid gaining extra weight during the holidays.
Eat quality calories
'Too many people think that to avoid weight gain you need to avoid calories. In reality, you need to eat calories to stay healthy, but you need to focus on quality calories,' says Mohr. 'Choose foods that are packed with vitamins and nutrients, rather than just empty calories.'
Seek out 'real' foods for snacks and meals over processed junk foods full of salt, unhealthy fats, and sugar. The fresher the better, because when foods are minimally processed, they typically retain higher levels of vitamins and minerals. For example, skip the bag of chips and snack on fresh fruits and veggies. When possible, cook meals at home where you can control the ingredients and reduce unhealthy extras like butter, salt and oil.
Manage stress and focus
During the holidays, people tend to try to do too much. This quickly leads to stress, which can have many unhealthy consequences, including overeating and weight gain. Being extremely busy also can lead to convenience eating, where you hit up the nearest fast food restaurant to save time, rather than head home to cook a nutritious meal.
'Remember to stay focused during the holiday season and take breaks,' reminds Mohr. 'If you're too stressed, you will be more likely to eat unhealthy foods and get less sleep. That combination may compromise your immune system. The last thing you want is a few extra pounds and a bad cold at the conclusion of the holidays.'
Support a healthy metabolism
'In order for your metabolism to function as efficiently as possible, you need to fuel your body regularly,' Mohr explains. 'That means you need to eat balanced meals and take supplements that support your metabolism.'
He advises to never skip breakfast, no matter how busy you are. Breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism and helps it function well all day. Additionally, consider taking a fish oil supplement that supplies the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids. "Studies show that omega-3s support a healthy metabolism," Mohr says. "People generally know about the health benefits of omega-3s to brain and cardiovascular health, but they are surprised to find out a high-quality fish oil supplement, like Ultimate Omega-D3 from Nordic Naturals, helps keep your metabolism functioning well."
'Deprivation isn't a good weight-loss strategy, and it certainly isn't much fun during the holiday season. Instead of avoiding all the candy, cookies, and rich foods served at festive gatherings, think of your own personal strategy before you go to an event,' Mohr says.
He suggests picking just one item you love, such as Granny's apple pie or Aunt Jude's stuffing, and let that be your one-time no-guilt holiday indulgence. In exchange, cut out other extras you don't like as much. Remember, just because it's being served doesn't mean you need to eat it. Cut out high-calorie items like sauces and gravies, and holiday beverages like cocoa and eggnog. You'll get to enjoy that one item you look forward to all year and, by avoiding others you care less about, you won't risk holiday weight gain.
Celebrating the season to the fullest doesn't mean you need to end the year with a few extra pounds. Follow these expert tips and you'll enjoy the holidays and start 2013 looking and feeling healthy.