It all starts with Thanksgiving and continues for two months or longer if you count the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day. The holiday season is a struggle for anyone trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s skipping our exercise routine because we are “just too busy,” eating that extra piece of pumpkin pie as we sit around the table, or picking up one too many cookies that our co-worker brought in to spread holiday cheer, this can be an extremely challenging time of year to avoid weight gain. Holiday stress, physical and emotional exhaustion and cold weather can also contribute to lack of exercise and overeating.
It’s important to remember how hard it will be to get started on that healthy diet and exercise routine again if you stop. So, instead of waiting until January 1 to make a New Year’s resolution, try and continue your healthy lifestyle through the holidays.
Here are some quick tips for staying healthy and active during the upcoming holidays:
- Be aware of how much you’re eating and why. Allow yourself some special treats during the holidays. If holiday cookies and other treats are a real temptation to you, allow yourself one a day to avoid deprivation and then overeating.
- Even if you can’t get in your regular workout, aim for a few shorter workouts throughout the day. Once the holidays are over you can get back to your regular workouts. Do not stop working out completely. Exercise will help your energy and mood, too.
- Get out of the kitchen after the meal is over. After cleaning the kitchen move to a room without food. If you can, put the leftovers out of sight. Instead of eating that extra piece of pie, encourage friends and family to go outside for a fall or winter activity or if the weather is just too cold, bring out the board games.
- Choose healthier options when filling up that plate. Opt to skip the gravy on your potatoes. Drink a big glass of water instead of eggnog.
- Do not stuff yourself. Have the foods that are truly special to you this time of year, not the foods you could have anytime. If you feel content with the first plate of food, don’t go up for seconds.
- If you do slip, don’t give up on the rest of the season. Think about why it happened and know you can make a different choice the next time you’re hungry. If you don’t exercise for a week, tell yourself you will exercise next week and do it. If you do eat one too many pieces of pie, pass on that next holiday cookie and grab a lower calorie option instead.
- Manage stress and emotions. Learn to say no. If you are sad or depressed, turn to people for comfort, not food.
- Focus on the social part of the event. Really talk with people and try to learn new things about them at parties and family events rather than focusing on the food.
- Plan in advance. Bring a healthier dish to pass and eat a little before you go so that you are not overly hungry.
- Be careful with the cocktails. Depending on what you drink, alcoholic beverages can be heavy in empty calories and may cause inhibition, leading to overeating.
- Give leftovers to guests as they leave. Be prepared with plenty of containers.
- Pass on everyday snack foods like nuts, chips and pretzels. Save your calories for more memorable foods.