01 Nov Nutrition Goals for a Healthier Holiday Season
Diet goals are some of the hardest of them all, or are they? With some knowledge in your corner, and a dedicated plan-of-action, you can make keeping your diet goals this season easier than pie!
Studies show that winter months heighten the appetite. According to NPR, “Study subjects consumed about 200 more calories a day beginning in the fall when the days grow darker.” Ira Ockene, cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, reports that humans seem to be very sensitive to light. “Less of it, he says, prompts us to seek food and eat it faster.”
Because the light fades earlier in the day, your body’s exposure to sunlight causes it to produce more melatonin–a hormone that triggers sleepiness. This sluggishness can lessen your desire for physical activity despite the increase in calories associated with the season.
But it isn’t just the shorter days of winter cause or waistlines to increase. There is also more holiday feasting, more time indoors grazing, and less opportunities for playing/exercising outside.
That being said, even during the busy holiday, wintery season, you don’t have to gain weight. Incorporate the following tips to keep your diet goals through fall and winter so your body stays healthy!
The goal during winter is to keep moving, even if it is just in spurts. Exercise “snacking.” Never heard of it? The New York Times reported, “As little as 20 seconds of brisk stair climbing, done several times a day, might be enough exercise to improve fitness, according to a pragmatic new study of interval-style training.”
HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) can be completed indoors with a few simple dumbbells and your body weight. Or, check if your apartment complex has an exercise building or if there is a gym fairly close to your house.
The American Heart Association recommends that every person get at least 150 minutes of exercise in each week. That is about 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week, all year long.
Those who exercise and keep their body active experience fewer illnesses, chronic conditions, weight gain and muscle atrophy.
Exercise naturally boosts energy stores for the entire day and works to burn calories at the same time. If you aren’t sure how to start incorporating exercise into your routine, consider the following WebMD article: ”
“Any little increment of physical activity is going to be a great boost to weight loss and feeling better,” says Rita Redberg, MSc, chairwoman of the American Heart Association’s Scientific Advisory Board for the Choose to Move program. Your exercise options are numerous, including walking, dancing, gardening, biking — even doing household chores, says Redberg. The important thing is to choose activities you enjoy, she says. That will increase your chances of making it a habit.”
Don’t Compromise Your Diet Goals
While exercise is a key factor to maintaining a healthy weight, as much as 70 or 80% of what you’re eating influences if you keep that weight off–even if you are exercising. Diets absent of specific nutrients can spur unwanted weight gain along with causing chronic conditions like fatigue, daily headaches or migraines, body aches and pains, and more.
Check your diet goals and habits and make sure you getting the nutrients you need. Learn top sources for vitamins and how much you need in your diet.
Other Tips to Support Your Diet Goals
- Plan a time when exercise is easiest for you
- Sleep, but not too much. Sleeping reduces stress and helps your weight stay down.
- Save carbs for later in the day, when cravings are higher with the sun going down.
- Decide how many treats or processed foods you’ll eat in a day.
- Design a diet plan so you know what food you’re eating each day.
- Get outside and do winter activities to burn calories.
Chronic Pain, Inflammation and How Diet Contributes
Patients that suffer from inflammatory conditions, diseases or injuries can benefit from taking a closer look at their diet. What you eat can influence your body’s inflammatory state. The Arthritis Foundation provides the following information about nine foods that can trigger inflammation:
- Sugar: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Sugar goes by many names so look out for any word ending in “ose,” e.g. fructose or sucrose on ingredient labels.
- Saturated fats: Several studies have shown that saturated fats trigger adipose (fat tissue) inflammation, which is not only an indicator for heart disease but it also worsens arthritis inflammation. Pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fats in the average American diet, according to the National Cancer Institute. Other culprits include meat products (especially red meat), full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes and grain-based desserts.
- Trans Fats: Harvard School of Public Health researchers helped sound the alarm about trans fat in the early 1990s. Known to trigger systemic inflammation, trans fat can be found in fast foods and other fried products, processed snack foods, frozen breakfast products, cookies, donuts, crackers and most stick margarines. Avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient labels.
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids: Omega 6 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid that the body needs for normal growth and development. The body needs a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Excess consumption of omega-6s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals. These fatty acids are found in oils such corn, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut, and vegetable; mayonnaise; and many salad dressings.
- Refined Carbohydrates: White flour products (breads, rolls, crackers) white rice, white potatoes (instant mashed potatoes, or french fries) and many cereals are refined carbohydrates. According to Scientific American, processed carbohydrates may trump fats as the main driver of escalating rates of obesity and other chronic conditions. These high-glycemic index foods fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products that stimulate inflammation.
- MSG: Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor-enhancing food additive most commonly found in prepared Asian food and soy sauce, but it can also be added to fast foods, prepared soups and soup mixes, salad dressings and deli meats. This chemical can trigger two important pathways of chronic inflammation, and affect liver health.
- Gluten and Casein: Common allergens like gluten and casein (proteins found in dairy and wheat) may also promote inflammation. For individuals living with arthritis who also have celiac disease (gluten allergy) and dairy intolerance, the inflammatory effect can be even worse. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains. Casein is found in whey protein products.
- Aspartame: Trying to go sugar-free? Aspartame is a non-nutritive, intense artificial sweetener found in more than 4,000 products worldwide. It is a neurotoxin, which means it affects the brain. If you are sensitive to this chemical, your immune system will react to the “foreign substance” by attacking the chemical, which in return, will trigger an inflammatory response.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a burden to the liver. Excessive use weakens liver function and disrupts other multi-organ interactions and can cause inflammation. It is best eliminated or used in moderation.
Call for a Consultation
Join the estimated 46 million people who are actively dieting this year by making diet goals that will stick. Your commitment to good nutrition and daily exercise can support your current and long-term health goals. Not sure where to start or what YOUR body needs? Give Mile High Spine and Pain Center a call.