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Feast on right calories

Jason DeSouza Dec 22 2017, 21:37 IST

Irrespective of the country you live in or the festivals you celebrate, holiday weight gain is a real thing. The kilos start to pile on from October onwards, and can take up to five months after the New Year to shed. Those who are already overweight or obese are at a greater risk of tipping the weighing scales further.
People come together to enjoy food during festivals. While the eating habits are the major reason for holiday weight gain, there are other factors too. As the temperature dips during winter, people make beds and couches their best friend. This reduced physical activity adds several kilos.
According to several studies conducted over the years about people's health during the festivals, the rate of heart attacks spike around this period. Poor eating habits, alcohol consumption, stress of travelling to different places with family, social and financial obligations can heighten the risk of heart attacks and cardiac complications. According to a University of Melbourne study, the death rate during this period increases by 4%.

Quick-fix remedies

While the festivities may give you ample reasons to consume endless rounds of your favourite food, the trick to enjoy the holidays, without suffering from the fall out of the carb fest, is moderation. Even if you just went on a diet, be prepared for it to derail, because going cold turkey is not a wise decision. Fortunately, there are several easy ways in which you can trick your brain and body to stay on track during the festive season:
* Catch enough sleep before the feast:
Get at least seven hours of sleep before a get-together. A recent study shows that both men and women tend to eat more after a poor night's sleep and can consume 300 calories or more of food and go for high fat and calorie options.
* A wholesome meal is the best appetiser: Load your stomach with a nutritious meal before you head out to a party. It will leave you little room to cram in platefuls of meat dripping in oil and butter or irresistible desserts.
* Never go to the mall hungry: Planning a shopping marathon during the holidays? Brave those huge crowds at the mall on a full and hearty stomach to avoid taking out your 'hanger' at the food court.
* Battle that buffet: Buffets are easy snares for overindulgence. But, escaping them only takes a little effort. Pile up on the healthiest items first to satisfy the cravings. Research helpfully points out that people tend to eat the most of what they see first. So, go for the healthy choice of vegetables in hummus or salsa over chips in high-fat dips.
* Grab the smaller plate: Ditch the fancy dinnerware for the humble salad plate to trick your brain into thinking you have eaten more. You can slash nearly a 1,000 calories or more just by filling up a smaller rather than larger plate.
* Avoid chomping breaks: What are holidays but the rare occasions to catch up with some of your favourite people? Eating slowly and chewing generously through some interesting and long conversations is a great way to reduce portion sizes.
* Get inventive!: Bring the party to life with some interesting potluck recipes. Make it challenging for the cooks to prepare healthy yet tasty meals. This adds more fun to the cooking sessions and helps you consume the right calories. A little hard work in the menu planning does not hurt!
* Gulp down the H2O: Consuming adequate amount of water is more important during the festive season than any other time. Staying hydrated can control your appetite and help calm down an excited stomach.
* Work that body!: Try and get as much physical activity as possible. You could walk rather than drive, arrange indoor and outdoor games for guests to work off the calories.
Few things are more depressing that dampening holiday celebrations with worry of digestive issues or health risks you may inadvertently put yourself or your guests to. Following these few simple steps will save you a trip to the hospital or down the rabbit hole of sadness over your weight situation. After all, festivals are about getting together and enjoying people's company rather than moan about health troubles.

(The author is head, culinary operations & food design at Eatfit)

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