Estimated read time: 6-7 minutes
Improving your health is one of the best gifts you can give yourself — and starting well before the New Year might be the best decision you ever make. In fact, adjusting a few habits at the onset of the holiday season can help prevent you from gaining those extra few pounds.
Some of these strategies might go against conventional wisdom in the dieting world — and that’s by design. If you heed the following tips, you could enjoy your best health well into 2023 and beyond.
One of the best ways to prevent packing on additional pounds this holiday season is simply to cut out the snacks. If you’re famished in between meals, that’s a good sign that you might not be consuming the right kinds of calories. Additionally, snacking might be taking a toll on your body that you don’t know about.
Jenna Macciochi, a lecturer in Immunology at the University of Sussex, states that anytime you eat, your immune system produces a "transient inflammatory response." Macciochi says that people snacking around the clock "can often end up in a near constant inflammatory state."
Chronic inflammation, she adds, can lead to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating can help with weight loss and lower your risk of metabolic diseases.
Eat more fat
You probably wouldn’t think that eating more fat would be one of the best ways to lose weight, but that’s because you’ve been fed a lot of poor information about this macronutrient.
Vasanti Malik, a research scientist with the Department of Nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health says increasing the consumption of healthy fats may be the most important change you can make.
"Fat helps give your body energy, protects your organs, supports cell growth, keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body absorb vital nutrients," says Malik. "When you focus too much on cutting out all fat, you can actually deprive your body of what it needs most."
However, it’s important to choose the right kinds of fat for your diet. Including those from short-, medium- and long-chain fat sources such as coconut, olive oil, avocado, cocoa butter and grass-fed ghee or butter.
A study published in Nutrition and Metabolism also found a link between high-fat/low-carb diets and weight loss in obese adults. In the study, adults who consumed more fat and fewer carbs experienced a drop in insulin resistance as well as improved cholesterol levels.
Stop counting calories
Here’s another one that may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. If you want to lose weight — and keep it off — stop counting calories.
"This idea of ‘a calorie in and a calorie out’ when it comes to weight loss is not only antiquated, it’s just wrong," Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity specialist and assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, told Harvard Health.
Instead, Stanford emphasized improving the quality of your diet and making sustainable lifestyle improvements. She also added that not all calories are equal. In one study, a group of people who ate ultra-processed food gained more weight than those who ate unprocessed foods despite consuming the same number of calories.
In short, stop counting calories and start focusing on eating the right kinds of food that will keep you energized and satiated instead.
Choose the best protein
Some people think swapping out their favorite candy for a protein bar will help keep the extra holiday pounds away. Here’s where you need to be careful. Healthline warns that many protein bars are packed with sugar and additives, so picking the wrong kind could sabotage your diet.
Look for proteins with a high biological value, which means they’re absorbed and used efficiently by the body. Because of their complete amino acid profile, animal sources typically have a higher biological value than plant sources. According to a study by the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, eggs and whey protein had the highest biological values.
The annual plateful of cookies you get from your neighbors might be delicious and heartwarming — but it’s obviously not the healthiest thing to eat. Unfortunately, the odds are high that you’ll be walking through a landmine of carb-loaded snacks and treats during the holiday season. If you truly want to keep the weight down this holiday season, you’ll be extra careful about the amount of carbs you consume.
In general, Americans consume far too many carbohydrates, thanks to some misguided nutritional information from the government in the early 1980s. (Remember when the food pyramid suggested that you eat between six to 11 servings of pasta, bread, rice and cereal per day?) Emphasizing refined carbs has been extremely detrimental to the nation’s overall health and weight. But weight gain is only a small part of it.
"Among the havoc those refined carbs create are inflammation (which triggers most chronic diseases including diabetes and obesity or what I call diabesity), heart disease, cancer, dementia and depression," says Dr. Mark Hyman in a 2016 article for Thrive Global.
Remember — you’re not obligated to eat anything that shows up on your doorstep.
Give HLTH Code a try
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