BY KEBBIE STINE, MNT
The holidays are a time for family, celebrations and falling off the healthy lifestyle wagon. We tend to let this time be an excuse to overindulge and then try to make up for it in January with unattainable New Year’s Resolutions. This year let’s flip the script and stay on that wagon right through the holiday season! Here are some tips for getting through the next two months with your sanity and your waistline in tact.
Do not skip meals in anticipation of a party or gathering. It may seem logical to eat light or even skip meals on a day you know there will be a feast for dinner. However, this practice will leave you ravenous by dinnertime and encourage overeating. Instead eat as you normally do during the day and before heading out to an event or gathering have a protein-packed snack with some healthy fat. A good option might be an apple with nut butter, or a handful of trail mix. This will ensure you have a healthy appetite to enjoy dinner without overdoing it.
Fill up on soup, fresh veggies or a salad before the main course. This way you are guaranteed to get the beneficial nutrients these foods offer and you may just prevent the proverbial food coma so many of us experience during the holidays. You can and should still enjoy the decadent sweet potato casserole and glazed ham, but if you are already full from a healthy starter you will be less likely to go back for seconds…or thirds.
Limit alcohol consumption. This one can be tough during this social season, nevertheless an important one to keep in mind. Not only are alcoholic beverages packed with empty calories (especially those fancy holiday cocktails), they also cloud our judgment when it comes to other healthy choices; like that third serving of dessert for instance. Try drinking one full glass of water between each alcoholic beverage to stay hydrated and keep track of how much you are consuming. You can also find some fun “mocktails” to enjoy and no one will be the wiser.
Keep your goals in mind. If you have been eating well, exercising regularly and feeling great give yourself a big pat on the back. Keep this feeling in the forefront over the next several weeks and set intentions to stay on track. Be mindful about how your food choices make you feel and choose to feel good. Easier said than done? Consider making yourself accountable by telling a friend your intentions or putting post-it notes around your house to keep you motivated.
Stay active! Don’t let cooler temperatures or old holiday movies keep you inside this holiday season. Organize a group activity like an easy hike or a friendly game of football, soccer, croquet, bocce, etc. Finally commit to doing the Turkey Trot, ride your bike around the park, or hit the ski slopes. Whatever it is that you enjoy, get out and do it! Exercise is proven to boost mood, reduce anxiety, and encourage better eating habits. Make sure to incorporate it into your holiday plans.
Get enough sleep. This one is often overlooked as something to focus on, especially when you are busy with all of the stressors the holidays can uncover. Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night will help you to keep your sanity, get along with those around you (hello family) and can even help to prevent holiday weight gain. To make sure you get those Z’s try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, make sure your bedroom is dark and the temperature is somewhat cool, and avoid screens (tv, phone, computer, tablet) 30-60 minutes before bed. Night-time meditations can really help to calm a busy mind and ease you into sleep.
Drop the guilt! This one may be the most important thing to keep in mind. If you decide to indulge in a sweet treat (or three) enjoy it, savor it, and by all means do not beat yourself up about it. You can always get right back on the road, don’t let a swerve get you down. It will be much easier to enjoy all the wonderful things the holidays have to offer if you let go a little and allow yourself to take it all in.
Kebbie Stine is a Master Nutrition Therapist in the Denver area. She practices nutrition therapy at Washington Park Chiropractic and is the owner of Whole Choice Nutrition Therapy. Contact Kebbie at firstname.lastname@example.org