But, by the end of the holiday season, do you usually have trouble buttoning your favorite pair of golf pants? Those buffet tables and holiday sweets can be bigger land mines than a pot bunker at the Old Course at St. Andrews links. This weeks article offers some practical strategies that can help you survive the holiday food free-for-all. My name is K.C. Craichy, and I specialize in performance nutrition and super health. Like a swing coach for your diet, Ill tell you how to avoid the Holiday Five and sail through the season fit and trim.
Before you step up to the tee box and start swinging, here is your holiday season pre-shot routine:
Staying hungry isnt always a good thing.
You wouldnt play a round of golf without eating something first, would you? Well, skipping meals during the day and thinking you are saving calories for the big splurge doesnt make much sense either. By the time the evening meal arrives, hunger pangs and low blood sugar can drive you into a feeding frenzy of sweets and carbs.
Chew your food!
Dont gulp down all your meals like you are just grabbing a snack at the turn. Chewing your food thoroughly can greatly assist your digestive system -- with the added bonus of helping you eat less. Savor your foods taste and enjoy!
Consume a nutrient dense whole meal supersmoothie for breakfast and lunch.
A Big Bertha driver may be your secret weapon off the tee, but a supersmoothie is truly the secret weapon in navigating those holiday eating land mines. Enjoy a satisfying and ultra-nutritious supersmoothie for breakfast and even lunch before your holiday meal gathering. You can turn a traditional smoothie into a supersmoothie by starting with your favorite smoothie recipe and using mostly water and ice but cutting the amount of high sugar fruits and juices by 75%. Now, be sure to add at least 25 grams of high quality protein and a fiber supplement. The result will be a low-calorie, low-glycemic, highly-nutritious meal that will stabilize your blood sugar levels and help you control your appetite. There are plenty of other healthy ingredients you can add later, but this is a super healthy start.
Eat the treats but cut the calories.
Cutting strokes off your score can lower your handicap. Likewise, cutting calories and sugar from your holiday meals can lower your chance of weight gain. If you decide that youll be eating holiday treats and desserts, be sure to first load up on salads, vegetables and turkey.
Make a Commitment!
When you stand over a putt, you make a decision about what line to follow and stick to it. Similarly, you should make a decision about what you are willing to consume prior to getting into any eating situation ' and stick to it.
Have a party plan!
If you have a tendency to slice the ball, you can create a plan to deal with that. You can do the same thing with your personal trigger binge foods. Is it chocolate cake, onion dip and chips, or pecan pie that sets you off? Consider bringing along your own healthier alternatives like nuts, seeds, raw veggies, cut fruit, chips that are baked and not fried, and dips made of humus, avocado or yogurt instead of hydrogenated oils.
Youre already nuts about the game of golf. During the holidays you can go nuts about well, nuts. Certain nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamias, coconut (not a nut but very beneficial), and chia seeds are extremely healthy and often offered as an alternative to chips, breads and sweets.
Think before you drink.
Just like after a round of golf, drink in moderation. Alcoholic drinks contain a surprising number of calories that leave you feeling empty but pack on the pounds. The bottom line: if you are going to drink alcoholic beverages, consider each drink to be a dessert and govern yourself accordingly.
Water, Water Everywhere!
Drinking water makes you a winner on the golf course and everywhere else. You cant beat water for no-calorie, rehydrating refreshment. Water is your bodys favorite drink and your secret weapon in the fight for the right to a low-calorie party.
Avoid Portion Distortion.
Keep your portion sizes small -- just like the number of strokes you use on each hole. If you cant stay away from high sugar/starch foods that make your mouth water until you start to feel full, make your portions smaller so that you take in fewer calories. When eating from a buffet, start with larger portions of greens and non-starch veggies with some hi-protein foods such as turkey. Now, take your time eating before going back for seconds. This time gives your brain the opportunity to let your stomach know that its had enough.
Use the 3-hour/6-hour rule.
Stop eating three hours before bedtime. This allows your body to use precious sleep time to renew, replenish, rebuild and regenerate, rather than digest that second piece of pumpkin pie. You may find your sleep quality improve, too! Allow at least the time it takes to play a full round of golf (4 ' 6 hours) between meals so your metabolism is allowed time to function optimally.
You find a favorable spot to tee up your ball, dont you? Do the same thing at parties. Dont stand right next to the buffet or the snack bowls to socialize ' find a spot thats inconvenient to the food but comfortable. Otherwise, if you start a conversation right next to the chips, before you know it, the bowl may be empty.
Restrict calories on alternate days.
You can still become a better golfer even if you arent able to practice every single day. In fact, it will improve your game if you occasionally take time off. Well, it turns out that the same thing is true with restricting calories. In fact, according to a recent study from the Louisiana State University Medical Center, not only can alternate day calorie restriction help you maintain your weight, it may even help prolong your life. So, plan to eat less on non-splurge days.
Dont take a break from your exercise program.
Just because its the holiday season doesnt mean you should take a holiday from exercise. When the weather outside is frightful, working out indoors is delightful. By keeping up with your workouts, you lower the risk of putting on holiday pounds of body fat. Try to be active every day; this will help you burn off calories and reduce holiday stress. If you arent somewhere warm enough to play a round of golf, you can always swing a club in the garage or basement. In my book Super Health: 7 Golden Keys to Unlock Lifelong Vitality, I write about a wonderful indoor exercise system that requires no equipment and can be finished by just about anyone in about 15-20 minutes.
Manage holiday stress.
The holiday season brings its own special brand of stress. Injected into already busy schedules comes holiday functions, gift buying, family gatherings ' all of which can lead to feelings of panic, anxiety and stress eating. Prayer, meditation, exercise and other forms of relaxation can help alleviate holiday stress and lower your risk of overeating to eliminate stress. Weather permitting; you can always squeeze in a round of golf. Or at least a trip to the driving range!
Focus on faith, family and friends.
Food doesnt have to be the focus of your holidays; it is only one of the many pleasures of the season. The heart of the holidays is family, friends and community. It is a time for gathering in good company, a time to share stories, catch up on family news and be active in community functions. Plus, theres lots of special programming to enjoy on The Golf Channel. So take time to relax, give thanks and remember what the season is all about.
From my family to yours, our Living Fuel Team wishes you love, joy, peace and super health this Thanksgiving and throughout the 2008 holiday season! And, best wishes with your golf game, too!
EDITORS NOTE: Golf Fitness Magazine is the only national consumer publication dedicated to golf-specific fitness, mental focus, and improving ability, performance and health among all golfers. Our priority is to maximize your potential, lower your scores, reduce your risk of injury, and extend your golfing years. Each issue has departments dedicated to men, women, seniors, and juniors along with tips, advice and simple exercise routines from GFMs team of experts. If you want to improve your golf game, and hit the ball farther, click here for special offers on a subscription so you can have all this and more in-depth advice delivered right to you! Get cutting edge fitness & mental tips sent to your inbox each month with our FREE golf performance eNewsletter, Shape Your Game. To contact our Senior Editor, Publisher or Online Editor with questions or comments, please visit our web site golffitnessmagazine.com for more information.