Sausage filled stuffing, buttery mashed potatoes, pecan pie, oh my! The holidays are a time for family, celebration and comfort food, but sadly for many also a source of anxiety about overeating and, consequently, weight gain. While attending family gatherings, work parties and social events is fun, those extra glasses of wine interfere with our appetite control and suddenly every high calorie food around us starts to look extremely appetizing. After all, we don’t want to be rude to our hosts… But when a one day celebration (Thanksgiving is not a four day feast!) turns into a month long libation, it’s time to set some rules that will keep you slim and healthy without feeling deprived.

Here are some things that you can do to counteract the dreaded holiday weight gain:

1. Change your mindset. 

Healthy living is a lifelong adventure rather than an inconvenient diet. There is nothing sinful about having a big Thanksgiving meal. So put on your finest and tightest outfit (overeating will be seriously unappealing in a skin tight dress or pants), leave your anxieties at the door and enjoy food and drink for this one day. The point is not to overindulge and use the holidays as an excuse to have cheesecake every day in December. If you do overeat, make Friday a detox day, complete with a green juice, lots of veggies and lean protein. This mini detox will rebalance your palate and stabilize your sugar cravings. Being able to self-regulate is the secret to a lifetime of steady weight.

2. Eat (lightly) before parties. 

Don’t “save” your calories! Keep your appetite in check and blood sugar steady by eating light meals and protein-rich snacks to avoid arriving at a party starving and devouring everything in sight. I find that eating a healthy breakfast is key to making good choices later in the day. A protein shake or a veggie egg scramble in the morning is all you need to keep you energized before the festivities.

3. Eat mindfully. 

Many of us eat in a rush, absentminded, distracted by our thoughts or conversation. Choose only the foods you actually like to eat. Don’t load your plate with aunt Mary’s stuffing only out of politeness. Next time you sit down to a meal, smell your food, chew it slowly and savor the texture and flavor. Put down your fork in between bites to ensure your brain has enough time to receive a signal of satiety (this takes about 20 minutes). If you have a sweet tooth, it helps to have a 3 bite rule when it comes to desserts. You will get to taste your favorite treat without the risk of overeating and regret later.

4. Keep up you fitness routine. 

Just because your in laws are visiting doesn’t mean you should skip your yoga class. Sure, the holidays are a busy time, so planning your exercise a week in advance is essential. When traveling, pack your runners, take advantage of hotel gyms or just head outside for a run. Thirty minutes of moderate jogging will burn off those two glasses of wine that you had last night. Plan ahead and make your commitment to exercise non-negotiable.

5. Consider intermittent fasting.

If the holidays left you with a few extra pounds and raging sugar cravings, rebalance with a gentle cleanse (think no wheat, dairy, sugar or alcohol for 5 days) coupled with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting doesn’t mean severe calorie restriction; it’s simply eating within a specific time window of the day. For example, you may choose to eat between 10am and 7pm, essentially fasting for 15 hours. Alternatively, you may decide to restrict your calories to 500 per day for a couple of days a week and eat normally the rest of the week. This mimics the eating patterns of our ancestors, who did not have access to 24 hour grocery stores. The great news is that intermittent fasting can help you lose weight, eliminate sugar cravings and normalize ghrelin, your hunger hormone. This may be the easiest path to wellness you’ve been looking for.

By Ania Dunlop, Health Coach at Food for Zen, for Bikram Yoga NYC

Despite the abundance of diet books, countless wellness websites and TV shows, many people are still confused about what to eat. Why is nutrition so difficult these days? Well, the answer to that lies in your local neighborhood supermarket. Take a look around and you will see food-like products that our ancestors would not recognize. These products have been made with unpronounceable chemicals, additives and fillers turning our food into a science experiment. We are focused on eating more or less carbs, fat or protein but rarely think about the nutrient content of each food.

The Devil is in the Labels

If we want to escape the processed food trap here is some advice from nutrition author Michael Pollan worth its weight in gold: “Eat (whole) food. Not too much, mostly plants.” After reading his book “In Defense of Food”, I figured out the recipe for eating without writing a whole book: Eat food that spoils quickly, doesn’t have an ingredient label and makes no health claims. What does that mean? Au natural. I firmly believe that when we eat clean foods, our bodies self-regulate and heal, while overeating, cravings and weight gain disappear.

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Eating Clean, Whole Food

So what’s a clean, whole food? “Whole” food is a single ingredient food, such as apple, rice, or beans, while “clean” refers to food that has been grown naturally, on a plant, not made in a plant, without pesticides, antibiotics and other nasty stuff. So let’s get back to basics! Choose real food that your great-grandmother would actually recognize and cook like your life depends on it, because it does.

While a lost art for some people, cooking real food at home solves our nutritional dilemma. Yes, it’s less convenient than grabbing takeout on the way home, but good nutrition not only affects how we feel today but influences our health and the health of our children in the future. If we truly want to transform our health, the first place to start is with changing our eating habits, eliminating processed food and replacing it with clean whole foods.

Ok, so what exactly should we eat?

We are about to geek out on some nutrition fundamentals. If you get bored with too many rules here is all you need to know: the key to optimal health and weight is a plant based diet. That does not mean you have to become a vegan, it simply involves making earth friendly plants a big portion of your diet with staples such as veggies, berries, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil and whole grains as the cornerstone of your meal plan. If you eat meat, making it a side dish rather than the main event, may help you extend your good health.

And if you are the type of person who can only follow one rule? Simply don’t eat anything with more than 5 ingredients on the label. Trust me, you will not be eating many processed foods if you stick to it.

Visit Ania’s website at foodforzen.com

Fueling your body before class with nutrient rich foods, coupled with optimizing you hydration levels, is important to give you the energy needed for 90 minutes in the hot room. Some would argue refueling your body after class is even more important. Whatever the case, at Bikram Yoga NYC we support and endorse healthy living, not only though yoga, but by making it a lifestyle choice that touches on everything we consume.

Enter Just Salad.

Just Salad provides quality, healthy food in a responsible and affordable way. They offer a rotating list of local, in-season ingredients, with a lot of quality protein options including grass fed free-range beef, antibiotic-free chicken, sustainable seafood, and organic tofu. In addition to their quality product and drive to see a healthier planet, we found another bond between our companies: Each of our locations has a Just Salad outpost less than 2 blocks away!

So, we’ve teamed up for a promotion that gives Bikram Yoga NYC students 50% off their first online order using promo code BIKRAM50. Offer ends 10/9/15. Also, starting this Thursday you can find vouchers at all Bikram Yoga NYC locations that entitles you to a free reusable bowl. Bring this bowl to ANY Just Salad location and get 2 FREE essentials, 1 FREE cheese or 1 premium topping. Offer ends 11/30/2015.

Bikram Yoga NYC & Just Salad… Hot Yoga and Cool Salads.

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(promo code BIKRAM50)


 

Fine Print
Offer ends 10/10/15 at 11:59 PM EST. Only valid for first-time customers on orderjustsalad.com. Cannot be combined with any other offer or promotion. Limit one per person. Must use Coupon Code: BIKRAM50. Minimum order: $8.99 before tax and tip. Orders cannot exceed $20 before discount.