Holidays like the 4th of July are often seen as a time for drinking, eating, sun bathing, etc. Being excessive is the name of the game more often than not. For personal training clients whose main goal is weight loss or weight maintenance, this can be a trying time.
This can be especially true at festive gatherings, from carry-ins at work to dinners and parties with friends and family – where there is often so much to try!
Without infringing on the scope of practice for dietitians, it’s still possible to offer some encouragement and advice for a client who dreads the thought of packing on some extra weight during summer holidays and BBQ’s.
Look Before You Heap
If the client is already used to eating smaller meals during the day, there is no reason to change this practice when it comes to holiday eating. In fact, it can be an advantage. Eating 4-5 small meals each day causes digestion to take place for a longer time throughout the day, which also increases metabolism. In comparison, eating only 1-2 large meals per day could mean that the body goes into starvation mode for hours at a time. And eating more calories at a single meal than can be used can lead to put on those extra calories as stored fat.
At a buffet, it’s best to reconnoiter the terrain to survey best options. Unless someone is under doctor’s orders to avoid certain types of food or beverage, there is no reason that someone should feel deprived of seasonal favorites. Portion size is important, though. So instead of loading up on any one food, it’s better to sample things in small servings than to overdo it on a “forbidden” food. Along with many holiday foods, holiday beverages often come in high calorie varieties.
One notable exception is water. Not only does it go great with food, it helps create a “full” feeling. When partaking of ‘spirited’ beverages (where calories from alcohol are also a concern), consider drinking a glass of water (either straight up or on the rocks) in alternation with alcoholic beverages as a way to pace oneself, as well as cut down on the odds of developing a hang-over.
At the Carry-in, Keep Calm and Carry on
It pays to be selective when it comes to the type and source of calories. When bringing something to a holiday meal, party, or carry-in, consider making it something healthy. A fresh vegetable or fruit tray can add variety and interest, and it’s something you can count on as a “go-to” alternative to foods that seem laden with sauces, sugars, and syrups.
Eat, Drink, and Stay Active
While it’s not necessary (and indeed possible, especially when it comes to some “mystery” homemade items) to count every calorie, it is still good to have an approximate idea of caloric intake and how it relates to exercise. It’s also important to keep in mind that a “few” extra calories can equate to more than a little extra exercise to even things out. Just 15 minutes of walking can be enough to get the blood circulating to parts of the body other than the digestive system and can burn off a few calories at the same time.
Take a Hike
Before settling down on a lounge chair to sip your beverage of choice, everyone should make sure to get some kind of exercise accomplished.
Weather permitting, after any large meal, go for a walk with family and/or friends. Just 15 minutes of walking can be enough to get the blood circulating to parts of the body other than the digestive system and can burn off a few calories in the process.
And if someone should still manage to gain a little extra non-lean weight over the holiday, well there’s plenty of long summer days left to burn it off, right?