Even if you have superhuman willpower, the holiday season is challenging for everyone. Staying on track can seem so daunting, you feel like swan-diving into the eggnog and sending your sensible routine into hibernation until the New Year.
But, as we all know, excess pounds don’t disappear along with decorations, and nobody wants to start the new year in the hole, body-wise. There is no need to. You can have fun without throwing away your healthy habits. Here are 10 tips for the no-gain season.
With so much to do around the holidays, shopping, planning, cooking, hosting, putting relatives up (and putting up with relatives!), the holidays can be stressful. Stress eating is a common reaction. Take time for yourself, even if just 10 minutes a day, to meditate, breathe, or just calm yourself. Delegate tasks, and make it clear if you are hosting that you’ll be doing so. You’ll find that most people would love to help!
2. Be active!
Don’t just sit around the TV or the table. Go for a walk with the family, friends, or the dog if no one else will go. Organize a game of frisbee or volleyball, or anything! The exercise will make you feel good and make everyone else feel less bored.
3. Limit the sugar
By all means, save room for a piece of that pie at the end of the celebratory meal, but avoid snacking on cookies, cakes, candy, or Aunt Bertha’s congealed salad. Aside from all of the calories you are eating, sugar is uniquely bad for the metabolic system. Have some healthy snacks available and some lower sugar and lower calorie versions of some treats as well.
4. Control your portion sizes
While it’s tempting to fill your plate with every side, instead take a serving of whatever protein is on offer, and then take smaller portions of just a few of your favorite sides. Eat slowly and savor what’s on your plate. Holiday foods tend to be loaded with sugars, carbs, and unhealthy fats. After you’ve finished your 1st plate, grab some of the sides you haven’t yet had- moderately. You’re likely to eat less by spacing it out and allowing yourself to get sated.
5. Don’t drink too much
I know, I know, given the stress, relatives, and festivities, this one can be hard. Alcohol, partly some alcohols carry a lot of calories, and once you start drinking you may lose your inhibitions and drink too much. There are some strategies that can help. To start with, plan ahead. Pre-make some pitchers of drinks that aren’t too alcoholic or caloric. Make one pitcher, at least, of mocktails to avoid the alcohol entirely and let those that don’t drink join in the occasion. Establish a limit of how many servings of alcohol you’ll have and count your drinks. Don’t top off drinks, or counting will become difficult. Avoid the eggnog, and sweet drinks with lots of calories. If you do indulge in these, have just one. Intersperse your drinks with water or club soda with a squeeze of lime. You’ll have more fun- and less calories- if you pace yourself.
6. Add fiber
Fiber fills you up, and often with very healthy calories. Start the day with a fiber-rich smoothy. Have snacks like nuts, bean dips, vegetables, and whole grain crackers available.
7. Get enough sleep
Not sleeping enough is likely to stimulate the production of hormones that will make you hungrier later.
8. Don’t be afraid to say no
If you’re the guest, you may be plied with all sorts of goodies, and constantly asked to “try this!” Stay firm and say no, you’re full, or that you’re saving room.
9. Do a little research into typical holiday foods
It’s hard to avoid the calories if you don’t know where they are coming from. Before the holidays, look up popular holiday foods so you’ll be fully aware what to avoid- you’ll be surprised at just how many calories some foods have versus others.
10. If you fail, don’t give up
Ate too much? Drank too much? Don’t give up, it’s not all or nothing. Too often we’ll get into a mindset that translates any setback into abject failure and we’ll abandon our goals. The holiday season goes on for a long time. If you stumble at one event there’s always the next. Keep a positive attitude!