Weight Loss Tips for Holidays: What to Eat and What to Avoid

How many times have you received weight-loss advice that doesn’t seem doable? How often have you been told ‘don’t eat this (or that) to avoid calorie packing’?

While there might be times when these tips work, they most definitely would not suffice this holiday season, when you face the double whammy of dipping temperatures (cravings) and festive mood (temptation).

This is why we bring you an effective season-specific list of ten easy steps that will ensure that you don’t put on any extra pounds.

Too caught up to read, you can watch a quick video here:

Pile on Proteins

Add protein to your diet to fasten metabolism. 

Proteins enhance metabolism more effectively than carbs and fat. So, make sure you include at least one kind of lean protein with every meal. Good sources include chicken breast, canned light tuna, salmon (fresh and canned), eggs, shrimp, turkey breast, tofu, lean red meat, low-fat dairy, soya milk, sprouts, beans and lentils.

Hot tip 1: When pulses are sprouted, they gain vitamins and fibre, and when eaten raw, they're good for slimming.

Hot tip 2: Walnuts are loaded with protein, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids which keep you feeling full. These are perfect for a mid-afternoon snack for adding on top of cereal at breakfast or salad at lunch (be careful of how many you have as they tend to be high in calories).

Also Read: Hate Eggs? Here Are Other High Protein Breakfast Options For You

Make Friends with Negative Calorie Foods

Food items like broccoli and carrots have a fat-burning advantage.

There are some negative calorie foods which use more calories to digest than the calories they actually contain. Calories from these foods are much harder for the body to breakdown and process. In other words, the body has to work harder in order to extract calories from these foods. This gives these foods a tremendous natural fat-burning advantage.

For example, let’s say a piece of cake containing 400 calories uses only 150 calories to burn in the body, leading to a net gain of 250 calories, whereas broccoli containing 25 calories per 100 grams may actually use approximately 80 calories in the body to get digested, leading to a net burn of 55 extra calories.

Asparagus, beets, carrot, papaya, strawberries, cucumber, cabbage, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, tomato, watermelon and apple all are negative calorie foods.

Also Read: Want Spinach? Here’s How You Can Make it Taste Good! 

Buff up the Fibre Intake

Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fibre that provides bulk and digests slowly.

Fibre provides volume to food without adding a lot of calories. It keeps you feeling full and the body occupied in its processing. This is particularly important as the temperature dips.

Foods rich in fibre include oats, high fibre cereal, whole wheat bread, wheat bran, fruits and vegetables.

Hot tip: Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fibre that provides bulk and digests slowly. According to research, five grams of pectin is enough to leave you feeling satisfied for up to four hours. Two large apples provide about two-thirds that amount.

Also Read: For a Great Gut Health, Say Yes to These Five Fibre-Rich Foods

Go Low-Calorie Consciously

An orange makes a brilliant mid-morning or late afternoon snack. 

Look for low calorie foods, develop taste for them and make them your new diet staples.

For example, go for foods like zucchini which are versatile: you can bake, steam or prepare in many other ways. With just 15 calories per 100 gm, zucchini is perfect for the calorie conscious you. Similarly, make yourself a hearty salad with lots of lettuce.

Hot tip: Before you leave for work in the morning, toss an orange into your bag for a mid-morning or late afternoon snack. It typically contains only 45 calories, so feel free to eat the whole thing!

Also Read: An Orange a Day May Prevent Age-Related Vision Loss

Eat More Water!

More water content in certain foods can make you feel full and satisfied. 

Have more fruits and veggies with high water content ‘built in’ because they help in making you feel full with minimal calories and keeping you satisfied throughout the day. Watermelon, lettuce and cucumbers are high water foods.

Also Read: Watermelon Diet For Weight Loss: Here’s All You Need to Know

Have More Hot Beverages

Green tea helps you lose weight because of compounds called catechins. 

Sipping a hot, low-calorie beverage is a great way to stave off extra calories (especially when you're looking to eat or drink out of pure boredom). Since they are hot, we tend to sip them slowly and over an extended period of time. Go for beverages under 100 calories like green and herbal teas.

Hot tip: Green tea helps you lose weight because of compounds called catechins which increase metabolism and help your body burn fat more quickly. If you don’t add milk and sugar, this tea has no calories.

Also Read: 4 Reasons Why Green Tea is Great for You 

Spice Up!

Spices add flavor to the food and make you feel satisfied.

Add spices or chillies to your food for a flavour boost that can help you feel satisfied, stopping you from eating too much. Plus, you automatically eat slower and drink more water! If your taste buds can handle the heat, add chilli peppers, hot sauce and salsa to your meals.

Hot tip: Some experts believe that kimchi, a spicy Korean delicacy, made of fermented cabbage, garlic, and chilli peppers, may help weight-loss effort. Its strong flavour suppresses appetite and prevents overeating. Look for it in Asian supermarkets or natural food stores, and eat a small amount as a side dish with meals.

Also Read: Cure Indigestion, Acidity: Health Benefits of Hot Indian Chillies

Watch out for Hidden Sugar

Some drinks in the market may contain around 30-40 grams of sugar per serving. 

Many people tend to not pay much attention to what they “drink” when they are trying to lose weight, concentrating mostly on what’s on their “plate”.

But did you know that you can easily consume 800-1,000 calories and loads of sugar everyday just from what you drink? Some drinks in the market are high in fructose and may contain as much as 30-40 grams of sugar in one serving. That is a lot of sugar for one drink-especially when experts recommend you only have 48 grams in a day.

Get this right: Sugar is a carbohydrate, so when it is not burned off, it turns into fat.

Also Read: ‘Sweetened Drinks Pose Greater Diabetes Risk Than Sugary Foods’

Drink Water

People tend to confuse thirst with hunger.

Before you tear into that bag of potato chips, drink a glass of water first. People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger, making them eat extra calories when an ice-cold glass of water is really all they needed.

Hot tip: If plain water doesn’t cut it, try drinking flavoured sparkling water or brewing a cup of fruit-infused herbal tea.

Also Read: Drink Up! NOT Drinking Water Will Make You Gain Weight

Handle Stress-Eating

Go for a low fat yogurt or fruit instead of hogging candy bars. 

Three hours after lunch is usually the beginning of the "CortiZone," when stress hormones plummet along with energy and mental concentration. It is also the most popular time for stress-induced eating, when you gobble a candy bar for a quick energy boost.

At that time eat something that provides high-quality energy. Combinations of protein and carbohydrates are ideal, such as low-fat or fat-free yogurt or cottage cheese, along with a piece of fruit.

Start food-journaling. Keep a food diary, but don’t just record what and how much you eat. Journaling about your feelings can help you identify what triggers you to eat and why, so you can break unhealthy habits for good.

(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)

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