Eat Leftovers and Lose Weight This Holiday Season

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Good news. Those holiday leftovers may not be so terrible to have around after all. In fact, they could help you drop a couple of pounds. We know, it sounds too good to be true. So let us explain.

A program on BBC called Trust Me, I’m a Doctor found that reheated pasta is much better for you than fresh pasta. That’s because when you cook, cool and then reheat pasta, you turn it into a ‘resistant starch’. Translation: it won’t spike your blood sugar levels the same way that fresh pasta does. Without this spike, you’re able to stay full for a longer period of time rather than feeling hungry when the spike wears off.

“We can convert a carb-loaded meal into a more healthy fiber-loaded one instead without changing a single ingredient, just the temperature. In other words our leftovers could be healthier for us than the original meal,” says experiment leader Dr. Chris Van Tulleken.

That said, it’s not exactly realistic to eat leftovers all the time, so it’s important to adopt some healthy habits like the ones below. That way you’re not filled with regret (and food) when the holidays are over.

1. SKIP THE “ALL-OR-NOTHING” ATTITUDE

“You want to see the holidays not just as one long month of blow-out parties and opportunities to drink and overeat, but realize that there are a few select events that you want to enjoy for the company, for the special foods you only get once a year, and for the reason we celebrate,” says New York personal trainer and nutritionist Ariane Hundt. “When you add up all the occasions you have an opportunity to indulge, you’ll realize it’s not the entire month, but only a few days. Approach the holiday season not with an all-or-nothing attitude, but know that taking care of your health and energy is even more important now, given the cold season. An overdose of sugar and processed foods and alcohol will lower your immunity, energy and defenses, so be sure to balance out indulgences with added veggies, exercise, sleep and proper hydration.”

2. PRE-EAT BEFORE THE PARTIES 

Let’s face it. We’ve all been “hangry” before. That moment when you’re just so hungry, you’re also angry, and it’s usually no one’s fault but yours. And the worst part is, you’ll eat just about anything. That’s why Los Angeles nutritionist Sophie Jaffe says, “Have some protein and healthy fats before the party, so you aren’t ravenous.” Plus, you might actually mingle and enjoy yourself instead of standing next to the buffet table the whole night.

3. HYDRATE 

“Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day,” says Jaffe. “Water flushes out the digestive system and keeps the body feeling satisfied and not so hungry. Sometimes we eat things we would rather not because our bodies are actually dehydrated. We make better decisions when we are hydrated.”

4. UNDO THOSE INDULGENCES THE VERY NEXT DAY 

It might sound too good to be true, but you actually can undue some of the harm you caused your body if you tackle the situation immediately. Hundt says, “Hit the gym and push yourself in an intense workout on an empty stomach the next morning. This ensures your body burns off the sugar you ate and helps you avoid fat storage. You’ll also re-energize yourself, so the foods won’t have the usual energy-lowering effect, but you’ll be back to baseline after one or two good workouts. Just make sure your diet is sugar- and starch-free the day after a heavy-duty carbohydrate-laden meal.”

5. MAKE A PUBLIC COMMITMENT TO STAY HEALTHY 

“Committing publicly to your health and fitness goals will make you more conscious of your actions,” says Hundt. “Partner up with a friend who also wants to stay well over the holidays and create weekly goals that you can hold each other accountable for. Schedule walks or gym visits together, shopping trips or cooking for the week ahead, and check in with each other, supporting eachother through the temptations that will sure arise. A buddy will help you stay on track because you made a commitment.” Or have friends and family hold you accountable over social media. You’ve seen the people that do this–annoying as they may seem, you also see their progress.

IMAGE: @SpoonForkBacon on Instagram