Do you feel like you’ve blown up as big as a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloon? Us, too. That period between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day is full of temptation to overeat, especially when it’s unusually cold outdoors. The get-all-the-food-I-can-now primitive part of your brain is in overdrive, attempting to amass as many calories as possible to get you through winter.
Unfortunately, our evolutionary instincts haven’t kept pace with the 24/7 availability of food, so our rational mind needs to step in at times to exert some control. And of course, that’s where the plan falls apart for those of us who lack a certain willpower. Christmas cookies just beg to be devoured, as do the specialty meats, stuffing, cheeses, breads, sauces, cakes, eggnog, you name it. Sometimes it seems that your hands and body are acting independently of your mind, and there’s a good reason for that. The sugars and fats in those foods are packed with calories. At one time in our evolutionary history, foods that were calorie dense were very hard to come by, and when our ancestors were able to get their hands on them, they devoured as much as possible in case food became in short supply. That primitive part of the brain is still very active in our decision making.
Getting rid of the winter weight
When we’re carrying 5, 10, or 15 additional pounds of “winter weight”, the fastest way to drop it and get your diet back on track is to swing as far as possible in the opposite direction. Load your plate with fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, and whole grains, and take a pass on foods which contain refined sugar and unhealthy fats. For protein, instead of meat, substitute low fat, PLAIN yogurt or a handful of walnuts or almonds.
Be careful on your choice of yogurt. Read the label, as many manufacturers have added so many fillers, corn syrups, and other sugars to their “yogurt” offerings, that there’s little in the way of actual yogurt in the product. Also beware of the “natural” label, as there are no government standards regulating what exactly “natural” means, food-wise. The safest bet is always to buy plain yogurt and add fresh fruit to sweeten it up.
As far as nuts are concerned, there are those who shy away because of the fear of calories. But you’re wiser to think in terms of healthy/unhealthy calories instead of obsessing over the number. Walnuts and almonds are jam-packed with nutrition, including fiber and Omega-3’s. A handful of unsalted, unsweetened nuts at 200 calories is better than a diet cookie at 150.
The bottom line is, it’s difficult to eat too much salad. That is, as long as you don’t load it with fat-heavy dressings. This is another pet peeve of ours, as food manufacturers continue to push the limits in this area – what is perceived as a healthful food is in some cases as loaded with fat calories as a triple burger from a drive-through (seriously).You’re always best off drizzling a little Extra Virgin olive oil and organic vinegar on your salad – healthful fat and no fillers.
And speaking of triple burgers at drive-throughs, avoid fast food like the plague. Giving in to that gotta-eat-now urge will unwind a few days’ worth of healthful meals. It just isn’t worth it.
Here then are a few menu ideas to lose weight in the new year without starving yourself. Pounds will drop even faster with regular, moderate exercise like walking.
All meals: Drink a full glass of water sweetened with fresh squeezed lemon before eating. The water fills you up and flushes your cells. The lemon stimulates your liver to dispose of toxic elements. This will also prevent you from overeating, as thirst/hunger can sometimes feel identical.
You’ll also notice that grains in the form of bread are missing. Bread was once called “the staff of life”, but white bread in a bag was not what was meant. Breads baked from grains which lack fiber are absolutely terrible for your body and blood sugar levels. If you include bread, choose fresh-baked from a bakery and choose whole grains or sourdough only. But even here, eat just 1 thin slice until you hit your body weight target, as the bread packs a considerable carb load, and it takes time to burn off those calories and blood sugar.
Water, Unsweetened coffee or tea
Whole oats cooked on stove or microwave (sweeten with 1 tsp brown sugar, if necessary)
1/4 cup of walnuts
1 cup of fresh fruit
This is one of the most satisfying breakfasts. The fiber in the oats and fruit fills you up and the protein in the nuts keeps you satisfied until lunch.
Water, Unsweetened coffee or tea
Egg white omelet with vegetable stuffing (no cheese, sorry)
We normally aren’t against including egg yolks in your omelette, but if you’re trying to drop weight, bypassing the yolks will reduce the fat and calorie load.
Mixed green salad with broccoli, asparagus, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and/or fresh green beans (as much as you like and in any combination you like)
Extra Virgin olive oil with organic red wine vinegar (no store-bought dressing)
1/4 cup almonds
As we said earlier, you can’t eat too much fresh salad, where your health is concerned. No one ever got heart disease from spinach.
Stick with meals like those above, and your extra weight should be off by Valentine’s Day. Happy eating!