During the holidays the opportunity to overindulge lurks around every corner. The cookies, fudge, eggnog and jelly doughnuts are so delicious and a peppermint latte doesn’t seem complete without whip cream. And what’s an extra glass of wine anyway?! Who cares? Let’s enjoy the season!
I totally agree it’s a season to enjoy and celebrate!
However, we all know how crummy it feels once the holidays are over and our muffin top hangs over our jeans and the reality of the extra pounds we need to lose sets in. Most of us have heard the statistics, “The average weight gain during the winter holidays is about one pound. That may not seem so bad, but the real problem is that most people don’t ever lose the extra pound of weight they put on during the holidays, according to a report published in The New England Journal of Medicine. And it’s worse news for people who are already overweight.” (Shape magazine article).
By changing a few things, we don’t have to deprive ourselves of fully enjoying and celebrating this time of year.
With these 7 helpful tips we can still have a blast, enjoy the ‘good stuff,’ and we don’t have to gain weight over the holidays:
Focus on the relationships more than the food.
Many people tend to overly focus on the food rather than enjoying the company of friends’, co-workers and family. The holidays are a time to celebrate our relationships, have fun and make memories.
When you find yourself looking to the food to provide the fun, focus on the relationships around you and enter into conversations. Be present. Enjoy the moment and where you are. Put down your fork or drink when you’re in a conversation and give the other person your undivided attention.
Eat mindfully. Really taste and savor.
Mindfulness is consciously slowing down and being present in the moment with whatever you are doing. Mindful eating is tuning in to all your senses – the smell, taste and texture to really savoring what you eat. It will help you to enjoy your food more and eat less.
- Take a moment before you pick up your fork, pause, chew slowly and really taste and savor what you’re eating.
- Stop before you have that stuffed feeling; pay attention to your bodies built-in signal alerting you to your stomach beginning to feel full.
Limit your alcohol intake.
Alcohol is not only loaded with calories and carbs, it also can cause you to lose control and eat more.
- Rather than 2 glasses of wine drink one.
- Replace one drink with a fun non-alcoholic drink or a club soda with a splash of lemon or lime.
- Avoid the easy vacation habit of drinking alcohol every night.
Limit the sugar.
Notice I didn’t say ‘eliminate’; moderation is the key.
- Rather than popping cookies, fudge or chocolate covered nuts (all my favorite) mindlessly into your mouth, limit the amount lying around your house.
- Hide it away in the pantry so it’s not right there to easily tempt you.
- Freeze the sugary desserts and defrost them before your guests come over.
- Give the sweets and goodies as gifts to friends, neighbors or your kid’s teachers and friends.
The holidays will be more satisfying if we exercise.
Instead of calorie counting or depriving yourself too much – commit to making time to exercise despite your busy schedule. You will feel better. This will help you de-stress, boost your energy, metabolism and your mood, while clearing your head. Commit to moving your body everyday.
- Rather than lying on the couch, go for a walk.
- Grab a buddy and commit to supporting each other to exercise.
- Schedule a time to exercise on your busy calendar ahead of time.
- Rather than just meeting a friend for lunch suggest a walk and then go for coffee.
- Take the stairs or park further away from your destination.
- Make exercise a time to bond with your family – take a family walk, or a yoga or exercise class together.
- Sign up for a fun holiday walk/run event to do with others.
Drink more water.
A lot of the food we eat during the holidays is quite salty and as a result we retain water and have that bloated feeling. Water is our secret weapon.
Carry a water bottle with you and be mindful to drink at least 8 glasses a day.
How it helps:
- Drinking water flushes your body of toxins and the extra water you retain.
- We often can feel hungry when we are really thirsty.
- Water helps you to feel full and eat less.
Be choosy about what you eat.
A strategy that works for me is to focus on making healthy choices as much as I can. When I do enjoy the sweets, I focus on only eating the desserts I love and then eating them in moderation.
- Focus on healthy eating – fruits, vegetables and proteins.
- Avoid processed foods (which are horrible for you) and cut back on the carbs (bread, pasta, cakes and cookies) where you can.
- Eat only what you really love and then eat it in moderation.
You can still have a blast and enjoy the ‘good stuff,’ without putting on the extra weight during the holidays.
Holidays should be a time that is less about the food and more about enjoying your time with those you care about.
Making time to exercise, limiting your alcohol and sugar intake, and drinking more water, will help to keep you feeling your best.
Enjoy this special time by enjoying what you love the most – savoring not only your favorite foods (in moderation of course) but also the time and memories with those you love.