The most wonderful time of the year is here again. If you’re like me, the holiday season is full of family, traditions, gatherings, music, love, and FOOD. SO MUCH FOOD. From Thanksgiving through New Years there seems to be a steady stream of rich, delicious, high calorie foods coming into our work, our churches, and our homes. I love this time of year because it naturally creates times for us to connect with our loved ones. Yet as a self-proclaimed foodie, this time is also like a mine field for me when it comes to healthy eating. So many of my favorite holiday traditions revolve around food, although very few of these foods would I recommend choosing as a healthy option. Add to the plethora of rich foods available at this time of year that our stress levels go up, and our sleep consistency goes down. These factors create a perfect storm for unwanted weight gain.
If you can relate at all, take some time to glance through these tips for avoiding weight gain this holiday season.
- Make a conscious effort to make health a priority. Set the intention to make healthier choices throughout the holiday season. It can be easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of the holiday season. If you want your health to be a priority, you have to make it one. Put a note on the fridge, or on the bathroom mirror, or somewhere that you’ll see it often with an affirmation that you are committing to yourself to treat your body well through the holidays.
- Eat breakfast. Study after study has concluded that breakfast is vital for our minds and our bodies. People that eat a breakfast high in protein, fiber, and nutrients tend to eat less throughout the day, and make better food choices in their day. Eating breakfast wakes up your mind, and your metabolism setting you up for better success throughout the day.
- Drink lots of water. Drinking water throughout the day helps keep your entire body happy. Drinking water before and during meals, helps you maintain better portion control. At parties, be sure to alternate any alcoholic drink with a water to maintain hydration, and decrease calorie intake.
- Get enough sleep. It’s easy to kiss your sleep goodbye with the parties, shopping, and holiday preparations. Getting consistent sleep is key to keeping yourself mentally strong to make healthy choices. Sleep is also vital to keep our cortisol levels down and metabolism up. Set clear boundaries for yourself around your sleep habits. Give yourself the gift of sleep self-care this season.
- Weigh in once a week. Daily fluctuations in your weight is normal, so weighing every day can cause unnecessary stress. Find one day a week that you will weigh yourself consistently in the morning before getting dressed to be able to watch for trends. Weighing weekly can help keep your decision to make healthy choices at the forefront of your mind.
- Pick your “treat days” in advance. Look at your calendar and identify the days that you know are going to have holiday festivities that include foods you just can’t live without. Set aside those days as your “treat days”. Commit to yourself that those are the days that you will indulge in the foods you love most. This will help you avoid those treats that show up unexpectedly at work or your home. If it’s not a pre-set “treat day”, hold yourself to not eating treats that day!
- Keep moving. The theme for this month is any movement is better than no movement. Taking 10 minutes in your day to do some air squats, take a walk, or strike some yoga poses is better than not moving at all. When the festivities of the season knocks your regular exercise out of place and you can’t get your whole workout in, don’t discard movement all together. Run up and down the stairs a few more times. Do push-ups after every present wrapped. Bicep curl your groceries as you carry them into the house. Just move.
- Eat high nutrient and high fiber foods before going to the party. Before you head to that holiday gathering, eat a snack of a high nutrient/high fiber food. Try something like a leafy green salad, green beans, cauliflower, an apple, some berries, carrots, or a handful of almonds. Going to a party in a state of satisfaction, instead of starvation will help you choose better options.
- Keep your plate small and eat only what fits on your plate. A great way to control your portion sizes is to choose the regular 9-in plate, instead of the big platter at gatherings. When there are lots of food options, keep your portions small to be able to have a little bit of everything you love. Commit to yourself to only eat one plate of food.
- Eat slowly. Savor the moment. Cherish the time you have with those you love, and take the time to enjoy each bite of the foods you love. Instead of eating your foods in one bite, take the time to slow down and enjoy the flavor, the texture, and memories you have in each bite of food.
Remember that perfection is not the goal. Some days will be better than others. The key is to wake up every day and do your best to treat your body well this holiday season.