I am going to start by saying that I realize not everyone observes holidays. Regardless of whether or not you participate in parties and celebrations, hopefully this information is helpful to everyone.
This time of year comes with many get-togethers that almost always involve food, usually include alcohol and are rarely helpful in managing a healthy weight. But, it’s so good for our social well-being to gather, socialize and foster relationships. That’s why I decided to put this piece together to help you enjoy a festive time of year while keeping things as healthy as possible. Hopefully this will leave you feeling better and avoid any unwanted, creeping weight gain to close out the year.
One of the biggest obstacles to good health this time of year is breaking routine. With parties, gatherings, after hours meet-ups and so forth, it’s easy to blow off some really good structure you might have created. Consistency is key to good health and breaking routine can really but a crimp on things. Here are some ideas to help with this:
- Exercise in the morning. Okay, so not everyone is a morning person, but if you can become one for a couple of weeks, it could really help you make sure to get in the physical activity your body needs. You can’t blow off your workout if it’s already done before you leave the house for the day.
- Be selective with invites. It’s hard to say no to things. Some of us are better at it than others, but it’s okay to say no sometimes. If it means avoiding alcohol or getting the sleep you need, it’s alright to prioritize your health.
- Get sleep. Do your best to stick with a regular sleep schedule.
- Dont skip breakfast. A healthy breakfast with protein and good fat will set you up for good nutritional decisions the whole day.
- Plan ahead. If you know you have a busy afternoon or evening, eat light during the day. That way when you get to your big event later, you aren’t over consuming on your daily calories.
- Sign up for a fitness class. This could really help with structure and accountability. If you have paid for a monthly pass or membership, even just one month, it will add incentive to get there and use it. Better yet, go to a morning class!
- Prep some healthy meals and/or make lunches on the weekend. You can take these with you to work to make sure you have a healthy meal during the day. You can pre-package snacks too.
- Use reminders. Set your phone to take regular breaks at work. This can be as short as 3-5 minutes that will allow you to stretch or walk around.
The other major problem this time of year is the abundance of calories. Food and drinks are everywhere and together they are the perfect storm for weight gain! See if any of these tips could help keep calorie consumption in check.
- Watch alcohol intake. This is probably the most important thing you can do this time of year. Alcohol has lots of calories and leads to overconsumption of food. When you aren’t mindful of what you’re eating (because you have been drinking) you can over consume hundreds, if not thousands, of calories.
- Drink water. Whenever possible, drink water. If you know you have an event, choose water throughout the day to hydrate and avoid calories.
- Have salads to keep lunch light and get those (minimum) 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Control portions. If there are treats that you want, don’t be so restrictive that you swear them off completely. Cut portions in half or split things.
- Eat slow. Enjoy the delicious foods that you get to have this time of year. Take your time and allow yourself the time to feel full.
- Cook something. Bring a dish to the party that you know you can eat. Just in case the food is too rich or not to your liking, you will know that there is at least something there that will work for you.
- Give away your food. By this I mean, if you love to cook or bake, give it away as a gift. If it’s sitting around the house, you will eat it!
- Politely refuse extra food. I have never understood this, but we all have that person who tries to force food on us. Be ready with a polite comeback if you need to turn down food.
- Check the menu. You might not always be able to do this, but if possible, keep an eye on calories.
- Avoid fried foods. These are very high in calories, low in nutrition, and generally just don’t leave you feeling good.
Hold It For The Holidays
A couple of other ideas to help this time of year:
- Keep a food journal. This isn’t something that I would recommend for long periods of time (it can become a part-time job), but this time of year it might help for the short-term during busy times.
- Fend off sugar cravings. Chew sugarless gum, go for a walk, read, do yoga. Find things that distract you from the many sweet treats around.
- Do a kitchen clean out to get ready for new year. Why wait until January? Get rid of the expired or unhealthy foods in your refrigerator or pantry now.