In my previous article, "Lose Fat, the Smart Way" (if you haven't read that yet, go ahead and check it out so you won't miss out on that important thing to make you lose fat for the long run), I did mention at the end that healthy eating is a way of eating wherein you nourish your body and keep it "satisfied" as well. What better timing to discuss on this further when you're probably thinking that this article will be about depriving your tongue from all those delicious holiday treats..
In this article, I'll be sharing to you 3 easy steps on how to prevent weight gain during the holidays plus a bonus healthy recipe that you can try out as well. Your folks won't even know that it's healthy as it's just so good! But before that, let's talk about the "satisfied" aspect in healthy eating since you probably shook your head in disbelief, associating healthy eating with satisfaction.
To make you better understand what exactly happens inside our body when we don't feel satisfied or during deprivation, let me share to you an extremely short story.
A long, long time ago, there lived mighty hunters and swift gatherers (Hint: These would be our late ancestors). Some days, they could hunt and gather lots of food, fit for a feast. But some days, not even a single kernel. But nevertheless, they still "lived" happily ever after. (Except when attacked by wild beasts) The End!
Now, why on earth would I share to you this weird story? It's actually the last part that I would want for you to focus on. The point that I am trying to make is that they were still able to live and withstand those periods when food was scarce because their bodies have always been designed for "survival." When they weren't eating enough, their metabolism slowed down and whatever they had taken in and continued to take in, their bodies quickly stored those as fat so this can serve as a back-up fuel for future days of famine.
Now, let's fast-forward to our current era. Of course, periods of starvation is quite rare, nowadays, thanks to the birth of agriculture and the modernization of our food industry. Instead of hunting for food, we now just have to gather what we need (and, most of the time, what we "want") from our local markets and for some, they even have it online.
But here comes you, battling against your escalating urge to have that piece of Oreo, or that slice of Moist Chocolate Cake, or that shiny and crispy-looking Lechon (Traditional Roasted Pig) you've been eyeing on for who knows how long. "To have, or not to have?" - you say to yourself over and over again..Guess what? When you deprive yourself - be it a meal, rice, or your fave comfort food - your body would still view this as an episode of "famine." That's why overly-restricted diets, like those fad diets that some celebrities promote or certain diets that aim to cut out certain food groups (like Fats or Carbs, for example), don't really work for the long run since your body is quick to notice deprivation, regardless of how subtle it is or not. And once your body senses this "famine" from you depriving yourself, the same chain of reaction happens. Your metabolism slows down and your body gets into emergency fat-storing mode, thinking that there is a shortage in the supply of food when it's just you waging a food war. And don't make me even start on what happens after you deprive for so long (reads this while binge-eats chips and cookies). It's just not sustainable for the long run if you still get easily swayed by the foods that you decided to cut out on.
1. Have a handful of nuts and a glass or two of water, 20 minutes before Noche Buena or any meal, for that matter.
The reason behind this is that it takes about 20 minutes for the healthy fat in the nuts to reach the small intestines and this, in turn, sends chemical messages to slow down gastric (stomach) emptying time, making you feel slightly full by the time you have your meal. Water prevents you from having hunger mistaken for thirst plus it also helps start the metabolism engine going. This also serves as an insurance as it is quite rare to see plain water being served during the holidays.
2. Begin your meal with a piece of fruit and one to two servings of veggies (or a glass of smoothie with both components).
The fiber in these helps to add to the satiety (feeling of being full) tank, thus making you eat far less of the not-so-good-for-your-waisline foods than you normally would. Plus, the vast network of nutrients and antioxidants from these can give your body the "shield" it would need for the not-so-healthy feast after.
3. Always start small when it comes to the least healthy dishes. (e.g. start with a small slice, a small spoonful, etc.)
Remember that feeling when you dine in a buffet restaurant and you regret putting so much of the less yummy food and not being able to eat more of the yummy ones because of that "no-leftovers" sign? In the same sense, when you start small, you get to taste which ones are really worth having another round. Plus, after having small quantities of every dish that caught your eye, chances are you have already reached the top of your satiety tank and no longer desire for another bite. But if you haven't yet, then go ahead and have another small piece until biology hits and your brain yanks your hand back to your lap instead on that slice of cake.
If you follow these 3 simple steps - be it during the Holidays or even in your day-to-day life, you will surely feel full and "satisfied" at the end of every meal because you're assured that you've filled up more on the good stuff plus having a fair amount of the things that you like as well. And you also get to have that confidence that you're managing your weight just fine. A fair deal, right?
And as promised, here is the healthy yet delicious recipe that you can incorporate into your Holiday tradition. A healthy and refreshing twist to your traditional Chicken Macaroni Salad. This typically caters to a lot of people but feel free to narrow it down if you're having fewer guests at your Noche Buena 🙂
"Cooling" Macaroni Salad
1 1/2 cups uncooked pasta
1/2 cup Vegan or any Canola- or Olive oil-based Mayo
1/4 cup Greek or plain yogurt
1/2 cup Silken or Soft Tofu
2 tbsp Raw Honey
1 lemon (juice and zest)
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 stalks celery, chopped to desired chunks
1 small carrot, grated or chopped to desired chunks (I prefer grating it)
1 cucumber, sliced thinly or into chunks
1 small apple, cubed
1 cup cooked shredded chicken breast
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Salad Greens of choice
1. Cook pasta until it reaches the el dente ("to the bite") stage -- cooked yet still having that bite to it. Rinse under running water and drain thoroughly in a colander. Refrigerate.
2. Blend together the mayo, yogurt, tofu, honey, lemon juice and zest, and the chopped onion in a blender or in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. In a large bowl, combine together the chilled pasta, carrots, celery, cucumber, apple, chicken and pineapple with the prepared dressing until well incorporated. Chill for at least an hour. Serve over salad greens. Enjoy!
I hope this article has helped you immensely. Let me know what you think about this article or if you'd like to share your suggestions on what we should write on next, feel free to share your thoughts in our comments section below and we'd be more than happy to read them. 'Til next time! All the love!
Kyrene Gail Tiu-Ong, RND
Clinical Nutritionist Dietitian
DIETWISE NUTRITION CONSULTANCY