‘Tis the season for family, festivity, and food—lots of food. Temptations are everywhere, and parties and travel disrupt daily routines.
What’s more, it all goes on for weeks. Holidays don’t have to sabotage your health goals.
With a little know-how, you can satisfy your desire for traditional favorites and still enjoy a guilt-free season by planning ahead.
How do you stick to your health program when everyone around you seems to be splurging?
Here are several tips that can help:
- Keeping hydrated will stave off cravings and help with portion control.
While you might think it makes sense to save up for the big meal, experts say eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite.
Start your day with a small but satisfying breakfast — such as an egg with sliced avocado, or a bowl of gluten-free oatmeal with dairy-free milk and berries — so you won’t be starving when you arrive at the gathering.
Eating a nutritious meal with protein and fiber before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices.
Holiday-Proof Your Plan
You may not be able to control what food you’re served, and you’re bound to see other people eating a lot of tempting treats. Meet the challenges armed with a plan:
- Eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady. If your meal is served later than normal, eat a small snack (like a hand full of almonds) at your usual mealtime and eat a little less when dinner is served.
- Invited to a party? Contribute a healthy dish to the gathering to ensure there is something you can indulge in that keeps you on your plan.
- Don’t skip meals to save up for a feast. It will be harder to keep your blood sugar in control, and you’ll be really hungry and more likely to eat the wrong things or to overeat.
- If you slip up, get right back to healthy eating with your next meal.
- Break physical activity up into smaller chunks so it fits into your schedule, like walking 10 minutes several times a day.
- Schedule some “me” time every day- a nap, dog walk, or hot bath/shower to get your energy back for the next event.
Outsmart the Buffet
When you face a spread of delicious holiday food, make healthy choices easier:
- Start with vegetables and make that the largest part of your plate
- Have a small plate of the foods you like best and then move away from the buffet table.
- Eat slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full.
- Avoid or limit alcohol. If you do have an alcoholic drink, have it with food and consider having something like a wine spritzer.
Fit in Favorites
Choose the dishes you really love and can’t get any other time of year, like Aunt Edna’s pumpkin pie.
Slow down and savor a small serving, and make sure to count it in your meal plan.
Go Easy on Alcohol
If you decide to have a cocktail, have a glass of wine or a wine spritzer and between alcoholic drinks, enjoy sparkling water.
This way you stay hydrated, limit alcohol calories, and stay sober.
Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate full of food.
Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber add to the feeling of fullness.
The holiday season is a time for celebration. With busy schedules and so many extra temptations, this is a good time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.
This way, at the start of the new year you will be ahead of the game if you can avoid gaining any weight over the holidays.
Focus on Family and Friends
The holidays are not just about the delicious bounty of food. It’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends.
The main event should be family and friends socializing, spending quality time together, not just what is on the buffet.
You’ve got a lot on your plate this time of year, and physical activity can get crowded out.
But being active is your secret holiday weapon; it can help make up for eating more than usual and reduce stress during this most stressful time of year.
Plan to increase your steps or lengthen your fitness routine weeks ahead and especially the day of the event. Finally make fitness a family adventure.
Take a walk early in the day and then again after dinner. It is a wonderful way for families to get physical activity and enjoy the day together.
Get Your Zzz’s
Going out more and staying out later often means cutting back on sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to control your blood sugar, and when you’re sleep deprived you’ll tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food.
Aim for 7 to 8 hours per night to guard against mindless eating.
Most of all, remember that the season is about celebrating and connecting with the people you care about. When you focus more on the fun, it’s easier to focus less on the food.
Consider a Post Holiday Cleanse
After the holidays, get your system back on track with a detox cleanse! Here at Integrated Wellness we offer a 21 day cleanse that can help you reboot for the new year. The benefits of a cleanse include:
- Higher energy levels
- Greater clarity of thought
- Giving your liver a break
- Boosting your immune system
- Vibrant skin
- Shedding a few holiday pounds
If you are interested in getting a jump start on the new year and setting up an appointment to learn more about our 21 day cleanse, give us a call today!