During the holiday season, food is everywhere. You’re constantly getting together with family and friends, surrounded by mouth-watering foods that are hard to resist, especially when these treats are paired with alcohol.
During this time, regular diet and exercise routines are often disrupted and additional calories pile up, but who cares? The holidays are supposed to be enjoyed, right? Enjoying the holiday break with family and friends at a table filled with irresistibly delicious meals provides us the perfect opportunity to overeat, but reality can kick in once you notice that your pants are feeling a little snug, and you realize that you likely over-indulged more than you should have. There are even greater health risks associated with overeating, some of which we have shared below.
Health Risks of Holiday Binge Eating
Heartburn: Your stomach’s primary role is to secrete hydrochloric acid to aid in digestion. The more food you eat, the more acid is secreted. This excess acid can then travel the esophagus, resulting in heartburn. Eating large meals can slow digestion, making you feel gassy and bloated.
Heart Problems: Overeating can lead to unhealthy weight gain, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. As you overeat, your body is also under stress. Binge eating creates extra work for your heart.
Type 2 Diabetes: Eating more than your daily calorie requirement results in weight gain that can eventually lead to the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.
Other Health Risks: Being overweight raises the risk of developing the following conditions:
Getting Back on Track
Rather than feeling guilty after holiday indulgence, it’s best to get back on your feet to shake those extra pounds off. Here are some tips that will help you get back on track and keep you motivated:
- Take it Slow: Crash dieting or fasting can do even more harm to your health. Give your body enough time to settle into its routine. Start moving again once you get over the holiday hangover. Start with a small walk around the neighborhood or a few bike rides. The best way to maintain your weight loss goals and healthy lifestyle is to make small, gradual changes.
- Plan Smart: Weight loss goals should be planned as specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based as much as possible. Instead of saying, “I am not going to eat fatty foods starting today”, it is preferable to say, “I will lose 10 pounds in 3 months by not eating sweets, baked goods, salty and fast foods, and adding 15 minutes of exercise per day”.
- Stay Hydrated: Water is very important, especially for your metabolism. It can increase your metabolism by up to 30%. Some weight gain during holidays can easily be flushed away if you stay hydrated.
- Clean Diet: Nutrition is important, whether you choose to follow a strictly prepared diet or just cut back on empty calories. Eating clean means choosing foods that are free from too many additives, rich flavors, sugars, and other extras. Eating less is the key.
- Realistic Resolutions: It’s common to establish New Year’s resolutions, but unfortunately most resolutions only last for a month or two. Make resolutions that you can stick with for a long period. Remember that it only takes a couple of months for a new behavior to become a habit. You may not see immediate results, but that is okay, just keep going.
- Choose a Partner: One of the hardest things to do is to get back into a regular workout routine – whether in a gym or your home. To overcome this challenge, find a workout partner to help keep you accountable. If they can’t join you during your workouts, simply checking in on you can be enough motivation.
- Snacks are Important: To keep your blood sugar level steady during the day, snacks are needed. Choose fresh, whole foods such as fresh fruits, whole grain crackers, nuts, cheese, and cut-up raw vegetables. Don’t go for processed and packaged foods as they contain higher sugar.
- Commit to Success: If you are committed to achieving your goals there is a much greater chance of success. Consistent hard work always pays off.
- Have Fun: Make your exercise routine fun and enjoyable. Choose activities that you love doing, regardless of the obstacles and challenges.
- Change it Up: A routine that is monotonous and repeated over time can become tiresome. Recalibrate your routine and find new ways to make it more engaging.
- Reward Yourself: After your workout, savor the positive feelings it gives you. This is an internal reward that will help keep you motivated and committed for longer periods. You can also reward yourself externally by buying a new workout outfit.
- Take the Longer Path: To have a sustainable and effective weight loss journey, don’t take any shortcuts. Always choose the longer path. Do it slowly and healthily. A slow phase of weight loss will help your body adjust subtly and decrease the chances of the yo-yo effect.
It’s OK to enjoy a holiday feast, especially when spending time with your loved ones. Balance is needed for a happy and healthy life. When the new year arrives, it can be a challenge to get back on track and stay consistent, but it pays off when you focus on what matters most – your health.
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