Holidays are anticipated and wonderful times of the year. It is possible to continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holidays with a little thought and some planning. Here are some strategies to keep you on track during the holiday season:
Keep track of what you eat. Maintain a food diary to help you stay committed to your goals during this risky eating period. Be honest and record everything you eat. Even those little nibbles add up.
Weigh yourself daily and use that number to guide your actions. Research has shown that people who step on the scale every day and then act accordingly, either by increasing their exercise or tightening their eating, are 82 percent less likely to gain unwanted weight.
Zip yourself into your favorite pair of slim-fitting pants once a week and note how they fit. Too tight? Adjust your eating and exercise habits. Just right? Keep up the good work.
Before you allow yourself a splurge, do something healthy, like eating a piece of fruit, walking around the office for five minutes, or climbing a few flights of stairs.
Keep up the exercise. Be determined to squeeze in at least one or two workouts a week, even a few 10- or 15-minute spurts of exercise throughout the day. They can be just as effective. And use exercise as your stress release!
Choose your indulgences wisely. Instead of wasting calories on foods that you can have at any time of the year, pick items that are truly special and unique to the season.
Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch the day of the party. Make these meals nutrient dense with lots of fiber and protein and very few carbs and calories. This will give you more control when you are at the party.
Bring your own food to the party. Contribute a healthy dish to a gathering to ensure there’s something you can indulge in.
Eat the best-for-you offerings first. For example, hot soup as a first course, especially
when it's broth-based, can help you avoid eating too much during the main course. Don’t
pass over the veggies!
Stand more than an arm's length away from munchies. Drink water and engage in stimulating conversation away from the nuts and chips.
Sit next to a fellow healthy eater (there’s strength in numbers). Or choose to sit next to that uncle who eats slowly, so his pace can slow yours.
Wait for all the food to be on the table before making your selections. People who make their choices all at once eat about 14 percent less than those who keep refilling when each plate is passed.
Concentrate on your meal while you're eating it. Enjoy the smell, taste, and texture of each item. Enjoy the dinner conversation. Set your fork down between bites and while talking.
Choose foods wisely, filling your plate with low-calorie items, such as leafy green salads, vegetable dishes and lean proteins, and taking smaller portions of the richer ones. That way, you can eat a larger amount of food with fewer calories and not feel deprived.
Pop a sugar-free mint in your mouth. When you are at the point when you should stop eating, pop a mint in your mouth. The feeling of a fresh palate can curb additional eating.
Choose desserts wisely. Only eat the dessert offering if it looks like you are going to truly enjoy it. Don't be afraid to just try a bite and/or share it with your neighbor.
Tell yourself that all the running around you’re doing can help keep your weight in check. Believing what you are doing is having a positive effect can lead to subtle changes in your overall health behaviors.
Do not go hungry to the mall. To cut down on the lure of the food court, never go to the mall on an empty stomach.
Plan your shopping route. Stay away from the food court. Both sights and smells can make you desire food even when you are not hungry. Don’t put yourself in the position of having to resist.
Take a healthy snack. Knowing you are going to be out for a long period of time means taking healthy food with you. Carry a water bottle and stay hydrated as you shop as well.
Choose Restaurants with a healthy fare and avoid fast-food places. There is very little healthy food at fast food restaurants. It is better to pick-up healthy foods at the grocery store deli if time is a factor. If you have time, choose a restaurant with healthy options and request a table where you won't feeling rushed.
At the Office
Keep healthy snacks at your office. Stash healthy foods in your desk at work so you’re not as tempted by the treats piling up at the office.
Try to keep communal office goodies out of view. Plan your route to avoid the candy dish on the desk, stand at least 6 feet away, or ask them to put it in their desk.
Limit the number of “treats” you buy and allow in your home. If there is something that absolutely makes the holidays special, plan a specific time when you are going to eat it and don’t buy it until that time. Don't be afraid to throw away items that are too tempting. Remember, “It’s either wasted in the garbage or it’s wasted on your waist. How much work do you want to put into the waist/waste?”
Everyday in November and December is not a special day. During these two months, make an increased effort to eat healthy on all the days of the week that there is not a party or a social. Pay increased attention to exercise, vegetable intake, mindful eating and hydration.
The more effort you put into being and staying healthy, the more energy you will have and the more enjoyable your holidays will be. Take care of yourself, rethink what you are doing, make a plan and have a wonderful holiday season!