Survive the holidays without excessive weight gain!
Okay, so we all know that with the approaching holidays comes the dreaded 10 pound weight gain. Then January brings with it a renewed resolution to shed a few pounds in the new year. How many people actually achieve this goal, probably not very many. What if you could prevent the weight gain and still enjoy a healthy, happy holidays? The truth is YOU CAN!
Step #1: You MUST build and maintain lean muscle mass if you want to obtain or maintain a healthy weight over the holidays or throughout your life.
Cardio workouts are great, BUT over time you will lose muscle mass and your metabolism will begin to slow down, especially after the age of 30. The ONLY way to prevent muscle loss as you age and keep your metabolism up is weight training.
According to The Journal of Applied Physiology: "Weight-bearing activity provides an osteogenic stimulus." This osteogenic stimulus results in higher bone mineral density."1 Not only does weight training help you maintain lean muscle mass and improve metabolism, it will also protect you from osteoporosis. I do weight training 4 times per week for 20 -30 minutes followed by 45 minutes of aerobic exercise. This is the optimal combination for overall fitness and weight loss. Make sure you combine cardio workouts to help burn calories and weight training help boost your metabolism.
Step #2: Do NOT try to save up calories for the party that night.
You will set yourself up for absolute failure. If you go to a holiday party hungry you will end up eating everything in sight and the wallpaper off the walls too. This rule is true anytime. You should never go hungry.
When you are trying to lose weight you should eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. Your meals should be balanced and small. You should not eat until you feel full, but you should not starve either. It is about listening to your body, eating when hungry, stopping when satiated.
Balance your calories throughout the day and you will avoid binging in the evening and at holiday parties. Apples and 6 almonds or celery and hummus are great low calorie high nutrient snacks. If you need a snack to help you curb excess eating at a party these should help.
Step #3 Don't deprive yourself.
If you feel deprived you will end up binging. It is important to eat foods that taste good to you and satisfy you emotionally as well as physically. If you are going to crave a dessert at a party, bring a delicious low fat pumpkin pie or apple pie. Slowly enjoy a small serving of your dessert and enjoy your evening. The important key factor with not depriving yourself is, choose wisely. This doesn't mean indulge in anything and everything. It means bring a sensible dessert or food that will satisfy you without being too high in fat or calories.
#4 Go for the veggies first!
Veggies are low in calories, high in nutrients and very filling. If you eat a wide variety of vegetables before moving on to the main meal and dessert you will fill up on less calories. This will help curb the weight gain and keep you satiated. This is an excellent tried and true weight loss tip: Veggies First!
Step #5: Careful with the sugars, it's best to bring your own dessert.
I know you are hating me at the moment, I'm telling you to forgo our country's favorite addiction, Sugar!
Desserts generally combine sugar and fat, a weight loss nightmare. When you eat sugar with fats the fat competes with glucose for uptake when insulin is released. This forces glucose to circulate in the blood stream longer and can lead to insulin resistance later in life.
This same scenario is a disaster for weight loss as well. The sugar stimulates insulin release that will cause direct uptake of the fat into the cells, leading to increased fat on the body. You do not want to create this scenario if you are trying to lose weight or curb the holiday weight gain.
I have fat free, naturally sweetened pumpkin pie, apple pie and other sweet recipes that will help you indulge your sweet tooth without gaining excessive weight this holiday season. Sure it's okay to eat a chocolate, that means ONE, or a small serving of dessert but if you know you cannot refrain after having a small serving, it is better to leave it alone.
Step #6: Monitor your calorie intake over the holidays.
Enjoy your holiday foods, but monitor your calorie intake. There are many choices available for calorie counting software, several of which are free, a simple internet search will help you locate a variety software programs to help you.
We all lie to ourselves. I know this because I have worked with many, many people over the years and almost every one of them lied to me about their food intake. They would be struggling to lose weight or struggling with blood sugar levels etc. and would say, I'm eating perfectly but it's not working.
It took A LOT of prying until they finally cracked and I found out they were eating anything but perfectly. We all will all grab a little chocolate here and there, snack on chips or crackers, eat a donut and then pretend it never happened and before we know it we've exceeded the amount of calories our body can burn in a day and viola, weight gain.
Be honest! If you know you can't be honest with yourself, keep a food journal. You might be surprised to find that you don't eat as well as you think you do.
Step #7: You've got to stay in CONTROL! Do not let food control you!
Every single American I have ever met in my life is controlled by food! Try telling someone that their favorite chocolate cake is bad for them and you'll know exactly what I mean. You MUST stay in control. We all justify ourselves, well it's Thanksgiving so I'll eat this, or it's a party I'll have some junk food and before you know it you've had four servings and have to unbutton your pants.
Enjoy talking with your family or friends at the party, or make your goal to focus on good conversation and enjoying the company. Unfortunately we make every social engagement about food when it should be about celebrating the wonderful people in our lives. It isn't about food, it is about people. Eat consciously, pay attention to your body and eat slowly. This will help curb the over indulgence and the resultant discomfort from over eating. Stay in control, don't make the holidays about food, make it about giving thanks and enjoying the company.
Can I survive the holidays meat and dairy free?
Absolutely, try my pumpkin crème brulee and you'll be singing dairy free praises for a week!
I have made the most creamy, luscious desserts, scalloped potatoes and other holiday fare that would satisfy the most avid meat and potato lover! I personally do not care for the texture of meat so in my home I do not actually substitute for it, But I know there are many out there who want meat substitutes or have family members who insist it isn't a meal without meat. For those in that situation, I do offer recipes for tempeh sausage, bacon, un-turkey and other substitutes so that all can find a more peaceful way to celebrate the holidays.
Despite the fact that I have been a vegan for many years, I have always had Thanksgiving with family members who insisted on the usual Thanksgiving fare, including turkey. While I never ate the turkey I always wanted to enjoy Thanksgiving without the turkey on the table. This Thanksgiving marks a special occasion for me, my first, real Turkey-free Thanksgiving!
This year I am excited to have my first peaceful Thanksgiving. I have been busy testing recipes and planning my Thanksgiving menu. I know I'm like a child in a candy store but for me this is an exciting occasion. I get to plan my own Thanksgiving meal and enjoy it with my husband and two children, and anyone else who wants to fly out to enjoy it with us ;-) All the recipes and Thanksgiving menu will be available on my website in mid-November.
I will have Thanksgiving recipes available for:
and many other recipe favorites for Thanksgiving.
If you want an Un-Turkey for your Thanksgiving and Christmas Celebrations here are a few suggestions:
Tofurkey: This can be found at your local Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Good Earth or other natural food store. It comes with delicious stuffing and it is a great main course for your holiday meal.
Where do you Get you Protein, Calcium or Iron From?
I get this question so often that I decided I needed to write an article to show just how easy it is to obtain these nutrients in any simple plant based diet. I have software on my computer that calculates how much of the RDA for each nutrient you receive in your daily diet. I decided to plug in a very simple plant based menu in the software to see if it would contain the RDA for all the necessary nutrients. I think you will be very shocked as to how easy it is to obtain all the nutrients you need from a plant based diet. Now, I must give a disclaimer here: *I don't recommend Cheerios for breakfast but it just goes to show how you can get enough nutrients even with some poor food choices.
Sample Plant Based Diet Menu
1 c. cheerios
1 c. soymilk
Green smoothie (2 c. spinach, 1 c. mango, 1 banana 3 dates 2 Tb. flax seeds blended in 1c. water)
1 oz. almonds
1 med. apple
Lunch: 1 LARGE salad--
2 c. romaine lettuce
1 c. broccoli
½ c. cauliflower
1 med. Carrot
1 Tb. sesame seeds
1 serving avocado
2 slices tomato
2 Tb. dressing
1 baked potato (no toppings) this is just for example
1 slice bread with peanut butter
1 whole wheat tortilla
½ c. black beans
½ c. brown rice
½ c. corn
½ c. salsa
¼ of an avocado (guacamole)
¼ c. shredded romaine on top
½ c. of Mexican rice
½ c. romaine
¼ c. corn
¼ c. broccoli
¼ c. pinto beans
2 Tb. Mexican dressing
RDA's For This Menu:
Protein: 100% of RDA
Vit. A 1196%
Folic Acid 297%
Vit. B1 276%
B12 154% (this was from the fortified soymilk)
Vit. C 361%
Vit. D 79% (Vit. D needs to come from sunshine)
Vit. E 132%
Fiber 185% Here's the killer one, The omega 3's: Omega 3's 537%
People do not realize that we only need a tiny amount of omega 3's and despite recent ADVERTISING claims, Omega 3's are found abundant enough for human needs in green leafy vegetables and other plant foods.
Interestingly, Omega 3's are found in bananas, green leafy vegetables and a whole host of plant based foods, but simply because it is such a minute amount dietitians and other so called 'experts' miss the whole point, eat a well balanced diet and it all adds up to more than enough! It isn't just about eating foods that are concentrated in one nutrient, it's about eating a balanced diet, period! Advertising hype has caused a lot of fear over protein, calcium and omega 3's but none of these fear mongering ads have any basis in truth.
Where do Omega 3's really come from? The omega 3's actually come from plant foods, interesting how people twist the truth to sell you some fish or flax oil. Did you know that fish actually get omega 3's from sea plants? It is the bottom feeder fish that consume sea vegetables that provide the omega'3s. Plants are actually the initial source for omega 3 fatty acids. I tried an even simpler diet that included the same breakfast and lunch but dinner was: baked yam, beans, corn, rice, side salad. This is a very simple, very plain dinner but it added up to be 100% of the daily protein requirement very easily. You can do this with whole wheat spaghetti dinner or any plant based meals you consume. Getting the nutrients you need is very simple. The main point here is: If you eat a balanced diet, you will get all the nutrients your body requires!
You can't eat brown rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner and get the nutrients you need, but who wants to do that? I could have eaten significantly less food and still I would have consumed adequate amounts of all the nutrients, including the much feared calcium! Protein consumption in this country is HIGHLY over-rated and therefore I could in reality consume quite a bit less than the RDA and I would still have excellent muscle tone and be in perfect health.
But regardless I am still able to meet the RDA without any animal products whatsoever. So lets look at a typical 'Healthy' Standard American Diet and see what we come up with:
**I say healthy simply because general society would consider this the 'healthy' way to eat. I personally think this is a very poor diet.
'Healthy' American Diet
1 c. cheerios
1 c. reduced fat milk
2 slices bread
2 slices turkey breast
1 slice tomato
¼ c. romaine lettuce
2 Tb. mayonnaise
1 c. romaine lettuce
¼ c. broccoli
2 Tb. salad dressing
Snack: 20 corn chips
1 chicken breast
2 oz. cheese
1 baked potato
2 Tb. sour cream
1 c. steamed broccoli
**Let me explain my choices for this menu. First of all I kept the sour cream and cheese to a 'standard' serving. I realize many people eat more than this but that leads to excessive consumption of saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones and other toxins.
I kept this to the standard serving size for each food. Americans typically eat TOO much of the wrong foods. **You may contend that I could simply add more dairy products or meat to get the protein and calcium, interesting but then I would simply be adding more saturated fat, cholesterol and lack of fiber when it is already well above the recommended amount as is...you simply can't win when you rely on meat and dairy for protein and calcium.
You'd be surprised how fast the cholesterol and 59 active hormones in dairy can add up in a few simple condiments.
RDA's For This Menu:
Protein 94% (I bet this shocks you doesn't it)
Carbohydrates 36% ( this can cause severe fatigue and is dangerously low)
Fat 185% (too much fat)
Vit A 341%
Folic Acid 162%
B12 178% (not a whole lot higher than plant based with soymilk)
Vit. C 210%
Vit. D 20% (much lower than plant based menu)
Vit. E 43%
Calcium 92% (Surprising I know)
Saturated Fat: 115% (too much saturated fat)
Omega 3 216%
Cholesterol 193 mg. (we don't need any)
Fiber 85% (this can cause severe constipation the RDA on this is actually too low)
Who is Deficient?
So does that surprise you? I bet you thought that with the sour cream, cows milk, mayonnaise and cheese that this menu would contain more calcium. The other factor to remember is that only 30% of cows milk calcium is bio-available. There is a current trend arguing that because beans and some leafy greens contain phytates and oxylates this binds with calcium or zinc and therefore those who eat a plant based diet do not obtain enough of these nutrients. What about Phytates and Oxilates?
**It is important to realize that in this menu example we obtained 185% of the daily value of iron and 226% of the daily value of zinc. So if the phytates were able to bind with HALF of these minerals we would still be absorbing the RDA of these minerals. In reality phytates do not actually bind with 50% of these minerals but just as an example you can see how ridiculous the claim is that those on a plant based diet do not obtain enough. As far as oxilates are concerned they will bind with some calcium, not much, but again in our menu we obtained 114% of the RDA and so even with some calcium being bound by oxilates we would still obtain the RDA. It is important to note also that the RDA for calcium is inflated to account for calcium losses most Americans experience as the result of excess animal protein consumption, which we know causes calcium to be leeched from the bones. **Notice that the plant based diet provided more of almost EVERY SINGLE nutrient!
** It is also important to mention that the SAD diet is VERY poor in providing adequate antioxidants and phytonutrients known to :
inhibit cancer growth
prevent age related macular degeneration
support prostate health
reduce cataract formation
neutralize free radicals
prevent oxidation which can lead to heart disease
improve immune function
among a host of other health benefits.
Next time anyone asks you where you get your protein, calcium, zinc etc. pull out this chart and then ASK THEM where they get their protein, calcium etc. Lets make a Direct nutritional comparison between these two diets so you can see that a plant based diet is far superior!