The holiday season is finally upon us. Now it is time to sit back, enjoy our families, and bundle up until the worst of the weather passes. Oh, and it’s time to eat. Did I mention that yet?
The holidays bring with them all manner of fried, baked, and stirred comfort food. And while I haven’t actually done an experiment, I hypothesize that all of the most delicious recipes were formulated specifically to ruin our diets and take years off of our lives. It is, indeed, a particularly tough time to maintain our healthy lifestyles and diets. The temptation to indulge in carb and fat overload is often a bit too strong to resist. That’s a battle I wage every holiday season, with varying results.
Despite what the temptation is telling you, however, there are things you can do to enjoy your holiday favorites without going overboard. You don’t have to miss a slice of your favorite pie, or the roast that only your aunt seems to be able to perfect. These are holiday staples, and you be able to enjoy yourself a little. Let’s take a look at some of the things we can do to help keep our diet—and your health—on track.
Start Your Day the Right Way
And by the right way, I mean move! I know, no one wants to wake up in the morning and hit the treadmill. That’s especially true when the weather is cold and our beds are so wonderfully warm. Making the commitment to get up and get moving, however, is a great way to ensure your metabolism is going strong and your body has more energy to work off the food you’re going to be consuming. You might be surprised with just how great you feel, too! If you’re too tired, try morning stretches, tai chi, yoga, or walking—anything to get you moving.
Keep an Eye on the Scale
Ugh. If you are anything like me, you probably have a love-hate (leaning pretty heavily towards the latter) relationship with the scale. I think that overall health is about a lot more than just a number, and I’m not usually a compulsive “weigher.” With that said, weighing yourself once a week or so during the holiday season is a great way to stay on track and keep tabs on how your weight wellness journey is going. If you’re consistently gaining weight week after week, for example, that might be a good sign to change up some of your habits in order to avoid excessive gain.
We grow up being told not to be picky, but in reality that’s the best way to be! When you are surrounded by food, be as picky as you want. Not sure you really want those mashed potatoes? Leave them alone! Those cookies look good, but not as great as the pie? Then leave them right where they are! Be selective with the food you choose to load on your plate and don’t add things “just because.” Always ask yourself if the specific food you’re considering is worth the cost in calories.
This one might seem counter-intuitive, but stick with me! One of my worst habits is essentially starving myself before Christmas dinner in order to enjoy food guilt-free. The idea of saving your calories can actually be counter-productive. If you are incredibly hungry by the time dinner rolls around, you are far more likely to overeat than you would be, had you simply eaten lighter meals the rest of the day. Don’t starve yourself and then end up in a food coma (like I so often do). Ration out your food and eat normally. This will stabilize your glucose levels, prevent you from over-eating, and keep you from dips in blood sugar-related mood levels (aka “hangry”).