Unfortunately, a lot of us pick up weight over the holiday season, using it as an excuse to gorge ourselves all the way from Halloween until New Years. These simple tips will help to keep you on the straight and narrow over the holiday period and prevent you picking up excess weight.
1. Always eat a hearty breakfast with whole grains and fiber that will sustain you for much longer than baked goods or a cup of coffee. Studies have shown that people who eat a healthy breakfast tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day.
2. Follow an exercise regime. If you are able to, exercise in the morning. Doing so will boost your metabolism for the rest of the day and having already completed your workout, you have the remainder of the day free for relaxing or spending time with family and friends.
3. While food is a big part of the holiday celebrations, remember to focus on the meaning behind each holiday and on connecting with close friends and family.
4. Aim to drink 8 glasses of water per day. The body often confuses thirst for hunger, so if you’re feeling hungry, drink some water. Amidst all the festivities, aim to get a good night’s rest (about 8 hours sleep per night). Studies have shown that lack of sleep is linked to weight gain.
5. As far as possible, try and eat your meals at normal times. If your traditional holiday meal is a late lunch, then eat a low-fat snack at your normal lunchtime to tide you over.
6. If you’re involved with the food preparation, don’t pick or snack as you work. If the temptation is too much then offer to help with some of the other tasks that need to be done, e.g. putting up decorations, wrapping gifts, looking after the children, setting the table, decorating the Christmas tree, etc.
7. Keep busy and take your mind off the food: If the weather permits it, go for a walk outside, build a snowman, throw snowballs for playful fun, or go sledding. If you are unable to get outside, involve the whole family in completing a puzzle or playing board games, or looking at old photographs.
8. Fill up on fruit and vegetables rather than fattier, more calorie-dense foods. Try and not slather your vegetables with butter or other spreads. If you need make your vegetables more palatable, rather use a low-fat or fat-free cream cheese, sour cream or other alternative.
9. If you’re having a potluck meal or a bring-and-share dinner, offer to bring a dish you make yourself and opt for a healthy, low-fat choice.
10. At office parties and other get-togethers, food is often served buffet style where each guest dishes up for themselves. If this is the case, dish your food up on a plate and step away. Don’t stand near the food and pick at it because chances are that you’ll eat more than if you dish your food up on a plate. This is because you can’t visually see how much food you consume, whereas if you dish your food up on a plate, it’s easier to see how much food you’ll eat.
11. Cut back on the alcohol as much as possible. Alcohol (especially your favorite eggnog!) contributes to calorie intake.
Don’t deny yourself any of your favorite foods or drinks but remember the key is moderation – you don’t need to eat an entire week’s worth of food in one meal! Remember that you’ll always have the chance to eat again tomorrow.
If you already follow a healthy eating plan, remember how hard you’ve worked the entire year to look and feel so good! Continue with what you’re doing and don’t let a couple of days ruin a whole year’s worth of hard work. If you do happen to over-indulge, just cut yourself some slack and plan to cut back your food intake with the next meal or on the following day.