Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some Helpful Holiday Eating Tips

I profiled my good friend, Jennifer Veak, recently. She is a fitness instructor at my health club. She recently shared some great information from a couple of experts that were featured in an article written by Sally Wadyka in (here’s the link -- about avoiding some of the bad holiday eating traps we frequently encounter.

With the holidays, it's prime time for celebrations, feasts, desserts and drinks. One potluck party or buffet dinner can easily add up to thousands of calories! In the article, Greg McMillan, a kinesiologist and running coach, and Tara Gidus, a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, tell us our everyday eating and exercise habits can pull us through a few evenings of holiday cheer. Here a few of their suggestions toward surviving excessive holiday treats from Wadyka’s article --

The Big Dinner

Gidus recommends eating a hearty breakfast following a big, holiday meal. Sounds a little silly, but her point is this -- after a huge meal, your body is busy digesting that it enters your normal nighttime "hunger phase" in the morning. The worst thing you can do is try to starve yourself to make up for overeating. Instead, she recommends a smart breakfast with 300 to 400 calories that includes high-quality carbohydrates, low-fat dairy and fruit. Her suggestions include yogurt with granola and berries; or whole-grain toast with cottage cheese and fruit.

The Perfect Time For A Long Workout

Your holiday meal was filled with carbs, so McMillan says this is the perfect time for a long, slow workout. McMillan says that with lots of muscle-fueling carbs, plus a good amount of protein your meal probably included, you're primed for a long run. You probably have the day off work, so go on a run that allows you to “enjoy the scenery.” Mcmillan says, “This is all about time on your feet, because you'll burn more calories the longer you go.” You could burn up to 800-plus calories!

Problems With Desserts

With all of the sugar and fat contained in most desserts, there’s an even worse evil associated with them. Gidus says, you often find yourself craving even more sugar the day after the big dessert because digesting loads of sugary carbs triggers a tidal wave of serotonin (the so-called feel-good hormone). She says when serotonin levels dip, your body craves more sugar to keep “the good times rolling.” Gidus suggests healthier sweet treats like fresh fruit, all-fruit jams and smoothies in order to keep “the good times rolling.”

Fast Workout

McMillan recommends intervals to burn off the bad effect of those sweets in a hurry. Do six to eight 30-second repeats at about 90 percent of your top speed with two-minute recovery jogs in between. He also suggests “bookending” this speedwork with two-mile jogs. "When you do a hard track workout, you're tapping into those carbohydrate stores at a higher rate," he says. You could burn up to about 700 calories in less than an hour.

Hopefully these suggestions from Gidus and McMillan featured in Sally Wadyka’s article will help you conquer ill effects from holiday eating.

Thanks for sharing, Jen!

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