How to Fight the Festive Fat

The holiday months, particularly December, are a time of relaxation and, in many cultures, a time to observe some religious holidays. Quite often, these weeks are spent in the company of friends and loved ones…and more often than not, involving social gatherings and parties where copious amounts of food and even the occasional drink or two, or more.

Although this time of year is very enjoyable and anticipated for much of the year, it also poses a common problem for many people. With all the continuous eating, snacking, and relatively frequent enjoyment of alcoholic drinks, how can you avoid the inevitable weight gain that typically happens to many of us around this time.

Fortunately, there are several tactics for keeping the extra pounds off without giving up the enjoyment of delicious treats.

One of the best ways to avoid 'holiday weight gain' usually comes down to portion control. However, for some people this is often easier said than done. That being the case, there are several more detailed tips that can help you keep your festive food consumption at healthy levels.

Because the holidays are a time of parties and celebrations, you may be faced with a few invitations to attend dinners with family and friends where snacks and finger foods are often available.

If you have a party to attend, try to have a small snack before you leave home. At first, this may seem a little counter productive. However, if your appetite is already somewhat satisfied before you arrive, it will be much easier to resist the temptation to overindulge on the snacks. Of course, this strategy is contingent on having a healthy snack before you arrive. Celery, apples, bananas, or even a few low-fat crackers should do the trick.

If you plan to bring your own dish to a dinner party, focus on something healthy and low in calories. Dried fruit, cashew nuts, small pieces of beef jerky (or biltong), vegetable plates, and salads are a great idea.

Salads are especially versatile, as there are hundreds of different ways to prepare them. Try adding some holiday flair to your salad by tossing in some apples or fresh cranberries. Remember though, despite the notion that 'this is a season of sharing', don't feel bad by having a decent-sized portion of your own low-fat dish once you arrive!

The holiday months are inevitably a time of slightly elevated alcohol consumption for some people. Whether it's glasses of wine, eggnog, brandy in the pudding, or champagne to ring in the new year, avoiding alcohol altogether may be a difficult proposition.

Obviously, if you can completely eliminate alcohol from your holiday diet, you have taken a huge step in keeping the pounds off.

Still, it is possible to enjoy your 'favorite tipple' in a health-conscious manner by sticking to a few tips: First of all, avoid excess consumption at all costs. Aside from the obvious problems associated with excessive drinking, beer and whiskey are loaded with calories.

Limiting yourself to a few drinks at a time will help prevent you taking in these excess calories. Furthermore, drinking to excess interferes with your decision-making abilities, and may cause you to eat more sweets or goodies than you normally would…not to mention making a few other regretful decisions. Eliminating this two-fold threat of alcohol is of utmost importance.

Finally, even if you live in a region that experiences bitterly cold conditions at this time of year, try to still get some exercise when you can. A quick walk around the block can often be enough to burn off last night's dessert or one too many drinks. Being proactive is the key to keeping your holiday weight gain to a minimum.

If you have overindulged a little during the festive season, it doesn't matter whether you've eaten too much or had one too many alcoholic drinks (or both)…either way your body's biggest cleaning organ - the liver - will be working overtime.

It's important to give your liver as much support as possible by nourishing it with the ingredients and fuel it needs to function properly. One of these ingredients is milk thistle and we discuss this in more detail in the Ingredient of the Month section of this issue.

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