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Lori Hanson: Five tips to stop the holiday sugar train


Posted: December 17, 2009 10:40 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Are you nervous about the holiday parties, food, family and added stress? Many people are torn between love of the season, and agonizing over the extra five to ten pounds they know they will gain between now and January.

As the stress of the To Do list grows so does the waistline. But it doesn't have to.

I call it the sugar train. So often we don't see it pulling out of the station. And most of us aren't aware that the train is running down the tracks full speed, until it hits you. And by then it's too late.

Here are five easy tips you can use to stop the holiday sugar train in its tracks.

1. Eat a balanced breakfast.
You've heard this one before, but it is critical in helping you manage your blood sugar. If you skip meals, especially breakfast, it leads to overeating and reduces the amount of willpower you'll have later in the day to resist the holiday cookies and candy at the office or party.

Make healthy choices, avoid the donuts, and sugar coated cereals, fancy coffee with whipped cream, fruit juices and whole fruits that are high in sugar (melons, papaya, citrus, grapes, raisins and dried fruit).

Opt for berries and whole grain choices for cereal and bread. Have some good old fashioned oatmeal; a warm breakfast gives an added boost for winter. Include lean protein and healthy fat to balance out your meal. Cook your eggs or egg whites with olive oil.

2. Eat a balanced meal or snack every 3-4 hours.
This is essential to eliminate afternoon and evening cravings. Instead of a high carb protein bar loaded with sugar, have a banana or apple with a handful of almonds or walnuts. Buy protein bars with only natural ingredients (LARA Bars, PURE organic).

Always carry a snack with you so you won't get over hungry.

Prepare meals using fresh ingredients vs. boxed and frozen as much as possible, and shop at your local farmer's market or natural grocery store.

Enjoy seasonal vegetables with a variety of squash and fresh greens. Get out the crock pot and cook up a healthy meal with fresh veggie based soups and stews.

3. Reduce caffeine.
Caffeine and decaf dehydrates you and can trigger carb and sugar cravings. Instead of increasing the number of sodas and lattes you have to get through the day, try these substitutes.

Have a steamy mug of hot water with fresh squeezed lemon first thing in the morning. This provides a wonderful morning boost. Plus it's great for your colon and keeps you moving!

Alternate each cup of coffee with tea or water. If you must have caffeine to survive try some green tea. For each cup of caffeine you consume, drink one cup of water to hydrate and replenish your system.

4. Manage your alcohol consumption.
This can be the hardest part of the holidays. Every party and event you attend has plenty of wonderful wines, beer, mixed drinks and after dinner delights. We know these are extra calories, but beer and wine have a high level of fructose, (a simple sugar) and alcohol. It's sugar in a bottle.

If you drink on an empty stomach to save calories chances are you'll be nibbling all night, hitting the desert tray and eating everything else at the happy hour or party that you hadn't intended to. Now you're on the sugar train.

Here are a couple of quick tips to help you manage your alcohol consumption:

* Eat something before going to a happy hour or party.

* Have a protein bar or small healthy snack. 

* Have a glass of water between each drink. This will enable you to make sensible choices about food (and driving) and keeps you hydrated. 

* And lastly look for the protein on the appetizer menu or party table. Having protein when you drink will offset the carbs and sugar you're consuming and help you stay in balance.

5. Take a timeout!
Even in the midst of all you have to do, you need a timeout.

Away from the kids, the spouse, the boss and escalating demands. By taking a mandatory timeout (to promote good behavior) you will replenish your level of energy.

Three things are critical to maintaining your sanity through the holidays: deep breathing, relaxation and sleep.

Start by repeating this phrase first thing in the morning, "There is an abundance of time for everything I need to do." Write it on a 3x5 card and carry it with you. When you say it, close your eyes and notice where there is tension in your body, take a deep breath in, and when you exhale let the tension go.

Take a minimum of nine deep breaths. Then let everything be OK. Repeat again before bedtime to help you get a restful night's sleep.

By using these five tips you can wave good-bye to the conductor as the holiday sugar train pulls away from the station without you. And you can start 2010 without the extra baggage of the holidays.

Lori Hanson is a speaker, award-winning author, and eating disorder coach. For more information, visit or call (661) 670-0729.


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