Staying healthy over the holidays can be challenging, but with a little planning and a few helpful strategies, it’s absolutely possible!
Here are a few of my best tips to help you get through the season unscathed:
- Remember, it’s a Holi”day”, not a Holi”month”! There is absolutely no reason to indulge at every event you attend in December. That is what all adds up the extra pounds come January, not one or two celebratory dinners. It’s only an excuse to over indulge and gain weight if you decide it is.
- The single most important strategy is to PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING. Think about what is going in your mouth. If it doesn’t look unbelievably divine and unique, why eat it? Most of the foods during the holiday season are not really that special. Those chips and dip, chocolates, and cheese plates will all be available come January. You are not being deprived of something if you can choose to have it at another time! Ask yourself, “is this worth it?”
- Bring something healthy to the table, like a bean dip & veggie plate. The hostess will appreciate it and you’ll have something healthy to eat.
- Don’t go out hungry. If you haven’t eaten in the last few hours, eat a good snack combining complex carbs, protein and healthy fat. It will keep your blood sugar and willpower intact.
- For those uniquely seasonal foods, here’s my strategy: Indulge with care! For example, your mom’s fruitcake. She makes it but once a year and it’s delicious. The first piece you eat will likely be as delicious and decadent as you remember, and you will eat it with joy and it will remind you of happy holidays past. I’m willing to bet though, that the second helping won’t come with those warm feelings attached, just a whole bunch of guilt and indigestion.
- Grazing at the buffet is usually mindless, not joyous, eating. The best buffet strategy is to take a good look first, figure out what is healthy and really worth it, and then put that on your plate and enjoy it thoroughly.
- All alcohol is not created equal. A glass of eggnog has about 380 calories, while a glass of white wine has only 100. A fancy cocktail or hot toddy can have upwards of 500 calories. If you love a special seasonal drink, savour one then move on to the more calorie-friendly ones (the most friendly of all being water!) for the remainder of the season. Someone will be serving eggnog next year.
- It’s often not the calories in alcohol that lead to weight gain, but rather the loss of inhibitions & willpower that go along with it. We lose our ability to make good choices and eventually end up with a plate full of junk to wash down. Practice safe drinking! Volunteer to be the designated driver. Or only drink alcohol with a meal. Limit yourself to a one or two drinks and then switch to sparkling water.
You will inevitably eat a little more than average many days of the holidays. The best way to counter this is to move your body, so over the holidays if you practice my Holiday Balance strategies and exercise most days you’ll be ahead of the game come January 1st.