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4 Steps to Beating the Holiday Hangover

By Rachel Berman RD, Director of Nutrition at CalorieCount.com

You may have spent the past couple of months gorging on holiday treats, avoiding the gym, and making promises that you’ll get back on track come January. Have you starting living your healthy lifestyle yet or are you still overcoming a holiday hangover? Either way, here are tips to help you recover from your holiday indulgences and make healthy changes all year long.

1) Avoid fads

At the beginning of each New Year, we are bombarded with the marketing of diet and exercise products and services. Don’t be fooled by lofty promises of ‘easy & fast weight loss.’ Restrictive fad diets, and extreme exercise might result in weight loss but it will not get you very far. Research shows that extreme programs are unrealistic to maintain for the long term and once you go off of it, you are likely to gain back all the weight you lost, plus more. When we make small, manageable changes to our everyday routines, we are more likely to have long term health success. What healthy changes are realistic for you? If you can incorporate one of these changes at a time, and be patient with reaching your goals, come March, you will still be on the path to a healthy lifestyle. Having support from your loved ones or a community can help make those changes stick!

2) Swap your carbs

Carbohydrates often get a bad rap resulting in many ‘dieting’ plans that restrict the amount consumed. Whatever we eat in excess will contribute to weight gain so it’s important to choose the correct portions and get the most bang for your carbohydrate buck. We tend to eat too many refined carbohydrates and sugars from processed foods. Choosing real, unprocessed foods will help you increase the amount of complex carbohydrates you consume which will also translate into obtaining more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Just swapping out a couple of servings a day at a time will make a difference.

Carbohydrate to ditch: white bread, pasta, soft drinks, candy
Carbohydrate to dish: whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables

3) Hydrate everyday

It might seem counterintuitive, but if you are feeling bloated from too many holiday indulgences, make sure to drink enough water every day! Water helps flush out our system, keep our digestive tract moving, and help keep us hydrated so that we do not confuse thirst for hunger. On average, you should be drinking about 16 ounces with meals, 8 ounces with snacks. If you have an urge to ‘detox’, use the real definition of the word by just cutting out alcohol for a few weeks. This may help reduce calories from beverages and mindless eating which can make a big difference in how you feel.

4) Live your life

You may feel you need to deprive yourself or enlist in a workout boot camp in order to get results. This is self-sabotaging; no diet or exercise routine which makes you miserable will last for the long term. If you deprive yourself of foods you love, you will eventually crave and overeat them. Instead, make sure you are taking care of yourself and experiment to find healthy foods and workouts you enjoy instead of blindly following what you have been told will work. Everyone is unique and your New Year’s resolutions should be about living your life in the healthiest way possible. Proceed one step at a time and don’t forget to enjoy your life!

January 8th, 2012

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