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A guide to help you get ahead of festive binges.

The festive season is upon us—crisp cool fall air, undressing trees, bonfires, and celebrations full of indulgent delights. As much as we love festivities, the holidays can be full of sweet temptations. Today we take a look at tips to tame the seasonal sweet tooth.

It's that time of the year when hectic holiday schedules wreak havoc on a well-established fitness routine. Sumptuous celebrations with friends and family bring a warm and fuzzy feeling; they also tend to toss out the time to meal prep, workout, and re-center.

While the sales for fitness equipment rise during the holidays, research shows, exercise habits start to dwindle around fall and are at an all-time low mid-late December.

Our job is to help you to stay on track for a happy, healthy holiday season. Balance is key when it comes to food. Curbing the cravings isn't a one-and-done deal. Elaborate spreads full of high carbs, buttery, savory dishes, and all the sweet winter desserts known to humankind can be oh so tempting.

So maybe you binged on leftover Halloween candy. Or perhaps you sampled too many holiday cookies. Whatever your sweet sin may be, we are here to tell you It's OK.

The psychology of food goes deeper than bad-day-binges. Moderate consumption of treats is known to reduce falling off the health wagon. Don't aim for an all-or-nothing fitness plan, where you create an illusion of a perfect "healthy" day. This pattern causes us to choose extremes—"helicopter cycles" of intense fitness followed by phases of no effort at all.

One bad day or naughty food choice does not undo all your effort.

Instead, focus on putting in a little longer on your workout. Try to drink more water. Stick to your regular meal plan for a few days post-treating yourself. Here are some tips to help you hack the holidays.

What causes sugar binges?

Sugar binges

Seeing a platter of cupcakes, you'd wonder what led you to eat a cupcake, pudding, eggnog, and more. The answer is all about our body's best friend, aka protein.

When you consume less protein, it causes your body to manifest cravings for energy fuel in the form of sweet binges.

Simply - Low protein diets lead to sugar cravings.

High protein meals help keep you fuller, boost leptin, improve focus, energy levels and minimize chances of sugar binges.

How much is too much?

Too much sugar

Hopping from home to home for the holidays might be socially fulfilling, but a tad bit here and a dash there adds up in calories.

Take a look at some hard facts.

  • A single cup of eggnog contains about 350 calories (That's the non-alcoholic version !!)

  • Research suggests the average American eats about 7000 calories on Christmas Day! That is three times the recommended amount!!

So how do we steer clear of this without snowballing out of control?

Controlling cravings 101

-Eat balanced meals. Start with a healthy, high-protein, low-fat breakfast. Make your first meal the largest meal of the day.

-Eat at frequent intervals, smaller portions divided over many meals encourage stable blood sugar levels.

-Choose less processed sugar alternatives to combat cravings. Opt for fruit, dates, sweet potato, or dark chocolate.

-Volunteer to bring a dessert and choose to make a healthy fruit tart topped with unsweetened cream, nuts, and honey, or visit the Salsa City Nutrition page for an assortment of guilt-free sweet treats.

-Stay hydrated and distinguish thirst from hunger

-Don't drink empty calories. Choose sugar-free beverages - ("diet" beverages aren't necessarily the best choice either). Instead, opt for sparkling water or lemon water, mint tea, or simply pure water.

-Get enough rest, don't binge on caffeine either. The holidays can mean long hours too, but trust your body when it asks for sleep.

- Stick to a food journal for perspective on what you have consumed and how many calories you have left in your daily quota.

- Don't fill your plate full of tempting treats; make sure to eat veggies and protein and give your body a headstart to make better food choices.

- Don't cut out the carbs completely; instead, consume a moderate amount in each meal.

-Remember, healthy eating habits are a marathon, not a sprint.

Fit Tip: Download the My Fitness Pal app for a free calorie-tracking food diary.

Food is one side of the fitness coin; no matter how good you get at controlling cravings or managing calories, nothing can beat exercise.

Ho Ho How to workout during the holidays ?

Eat right, workout

More than 20% of Americans resolve to get fitter every New Year. Why not start early?

You need to devote only 2% of your day to fitness to get in a one-hour workout.

Here are some tips for sticking to your fitness routine during the festive season.

-Do not miss your routine workout time - even if it means stealing away from the family- allot that one hour just to yourself and your health

-Try to break up your workout into 3 sets of 20 minutes. Get in a set in between social commitments.

- Don't skip the cardio. It's important to get your heart rate up and burn calories.

- Offset holiday meals by putting in extra time on fitness

- Ask friends/ family to join you for a workout class or a walk.

- If you can't commit more time to fitness, consult with your instructor to slightly increase the intensity of the workouts.

The thought of holiday season gatherings can be a source of anxiety in many people. Remember to be a moderator for yourself, enjoy the festivities while remaining true to your fitness journey.

The most important habit of nurturing this fall/winter is that of mindful intention.

Disclaimer: The views/suggestions/opinions expressed in the article should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice.

By Sargam Merchant

For Salsa City Fitness

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