As another holiday season approaches, outdoor activities slow down and there are an endless series of family dinners, office parties, and other festivities where fattening foods are plentiful. Many people find it challenging to stick to their diets during this period. This article explores some simple ways to avoid packing on extra pounds during the holidays without sacrificing your enjoyment.
Why the Holidays are a Challenge
Between holiday meals and treats such as pies and candy, and cookies floating around, temptations are everywhere. Meanwhile, as temperatures drop and days get shorter, your level of physical activity tends to decline. All of these factors combine to make it especially difficult to manage your weight during the year's final months.
There's a kind of social sanction for letting your guard down and eating whatever you want as the holidays approach. Since "everybody" gains weight over the holidays, why even try to fight it? Avoid adopting this kind of defeatist attitude. The first step is to make up your mind that you will stay aware to your habits all year so you don't have an uphill battle to contend with next year. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to overcome these challenges.
Celebrate Holidays, Not the Holiday Season
The holiday season is quite a bit longer than it used to be. Stores are now promoting the winter holidays in October. If we count Halloween, the season begins after Labor Day. This gives you an excuse to party and overeat for almost a quarter of the year!
You can't control the marketing plans of retail and online stores. You can, however, manage your own mindset and behavior. Focus on celebrating individual holidays and avoid the temptation to fall into a three-month holiday haze where you eat whatever is put in front of you.
Healthy Cooking and Eating During the Holidays
Many people love to cook and bake for the holidays. With a few modifications, you can prepare dishes and treats that are healthy as well as delicious.
• Eat smaller meals in between holiday feasts. Everyone likes to indulge at holiday dinners. You can compensate for larger meals by cooking smaller and healthier meals the rest of the time.
• Cook using natural, healthy fats. Pay attention to the oils and fats you use when cooking. Use olive oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, and avocado oil are all good choices.
• Serve healthy proteins as the main dish. Chicken breast, salmon, and turkey are healthy choices for lean protein. Vegetarian options include edamame, tempeh, lentils, and seitan.
• When attending parties, bring a salad, or a dish made with whole grains or lean protein. This gives everyone, including you, a healthy option.
Holiday Party Guidelines
Parties are full of tempting treats. Whether the party is at someone's house, the office, or a restaurant, keep these tips in mind to avoid overdoing it.
- Use smaller plates. This forces you to reach for seconds if you want more.
- Limit your intake of alcohol. Alcoholic drinks are high in calories. They also make you less conscious of how much you eat.
- Eat slower. It takes time to digest food and for your brain to get the message that you're full. That's why eating quickly can cause you to eat more.
- When attending parties, bring a salad, or a dish made with whole grains or lean protein. This gives everyone, including you, a healthy option.
- Balance eating and activity. You don't want to plan an intense workout after eating, but taking a walk or engaging in any moderate exercise helps burn off calories. At parties, you can always dance.
Whether you work out in a gym, at home, or outdoors, make sure you create an exercise routine or stick to the one you have. Make allowances for inclement weather as the winter approaches.
- Get an exercise machine or take the one you have out of the garage.
- Use or get some free weights or Kettlebells.
- Go to YouTube and follow along with yoga, aerobics, Pilates, CrossFit, and other exercise videos.
- Take a long walk or jog every day. Wear layers to combat the cold.
Don't Count on New Year's Resolutions
New Year's resolutions that are quickly abandoned are all too common. If you overindulge for months, it's not easy to turn everything around on January 1. The fact that the new year starts in the middle of winter doesn't help. If you want to make resolutions related to diet and exercise, get a head start and begin them early. For example, join a gym in November rather than January. And/or purchase a monthly subscription to Actlive Life.
Get Enough Rest
It's important to balance work, leisure time, and rest. During the hectic holidays, it can be especially challenging to get enough rest. Research reveals that lack of sleep stimulates stress hormones that cause you to feel hungry. Make sure that you don't overload your schedule with too many plans. Take time to rest in between activities. Keep to a regular schedule of going to bed and rising.
Be Conscious About Snacking
When you think about holiday weight gain, your first thought probably goes to large feasts. However, these are actually relatively rare. What really adds up are all the snacks and scrumptious desserts that are passed around during the season.
It's fine to indulge but do so with awareness. It's good to have some healthy snacks around to munch on between meals. Foods with protein and fiber will fill you up so you're less likely to overdo it with sweets, chips, and other less healthy snacks.
Holiday Weight Management: The Key is Balance
Almost everyone eats more than usual during the holidays. You don't have to be perfect. What matters is that you balance holiday activities with healthy eating and exercise. With a holiday season lasting two or more months, it's more important than ever to maintain a consistent routine as much as possible. Take breaks and enjoy the festivities. Don't, however, give yourself a pass to do and eat whatever you want for the whole season!
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise routine. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.