Dr. Perricone's Pick: Health & Weight Management
Dr. Perricone Discusses

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

We all know the pitfalls when it comes to the holidays and one of the first is unwanted weight gain. Who can resist the tempting and vast array of foods that appear on our dining tables thanks to the bounty of the harvest season?

It's easy to overeat certain foods-especially rich 'comfort' foods like hot buttered rolls and macaroni cheese, mashed potato with gravy, etc. However, it is next to impossible to overeat raw apples.

But it is not all about the food! Although the holidays are filled with loving friends and family, they are also extremely stressful. It is this extra stress that can also encourage overeating.

Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

  • The best strategy is to eat high protein foods first, followed by complex carbohydrates such as fresh fruit and vegetables—if your appetite is satisfied, you're less likely to overeat.
  • During the holidays there are so many delicious foods to sample—many of them fattening. Allow yourself one or two bites of the foods that you know are fattening or have a less healthy profile.
  • Several small meals are always preferable to one large meal. Even healthy foods can elevate blood sugar if too much is eaten at one time. Remember, the goal to smooth, wrinkle-free skin and healthy weight is to maintain steady blood sugar levels.
  • Avoid coffee as this can raise levels of stress hormones compounding the problem.
  • Switch to green tea, which has substances—such as theanine—that are calming, and may help to relieve some of the stress.
  • Try to get some exercise in—historically we not only blow our diets during the holidays, we also fall out of our exercise routine. You will find that even just a brisk half hour walk will lower stress.
  • Don't skimp on sleep—insufficient sleep is directly linked to the craving of high calorie, high fat foods!
  • Perhaps the most important suggestion I can make is to eat your protein first. This will help to prevent any rises in blood sugar and will also help to curb your appetite. To help you, I have created a list of recommended foods to enjoy as appetizers:
  • Smoked salmon, trout, etc.
  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Smoked oysters, mussels and clams
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Scallops
  • Herring, trout or mackerel filets
  • Calamari
  • Caponata (eggplant appetizer)
  • Caviar
  • Escargot
  • Olives
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Chopped chicken livers
  • Chicken or beef satay or teriyaki
  • Crudités (fresh raw vegetables)
  • Marinated vegetables
  • Salsa
  • All varieties of nuts and seeds. Don't buy mixed nuts in the can. Enjoy nuts in the shell—they are more healthful, and cracking open each one will slow down consumption

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