Sticking to your usual healthy lifestyle plan through the holidays doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, nor is it realistic. On the flip side, eating whatever you encounter during the holiday festivities is not going to be great for your health or waistline either.
The real challenge with holiday eating is not the Christmas dinner with the family, but rather the fact that the holiday season, on average, spans over six weeks for most people.
With holiday parties and gatherings starting as early as November, it can feel like a marathon trying to keep yourself in check with all the temptations of eating and drinking. Christmas cookies and cakes loaded on the shelves of every bakery, coffee shop and grocery store. And we can’t forget the holiday drinks!
You can get warm around a cozy fire at Starbucks with an eggnog latte, but you must also recognize that you are sucking back 12 tsp of sugar at the same time.
So, what are we to do with all these work parties, gathering with friends, family dinner and coffee breaks ahead of us?
First, here are four mentalities you want to avoid….
The avoidance mentality – I am going to eat whatever I want, ignore how awful I will feel and how much weight I will gain, and just worry about it in January.
The go-getter mentality – I don't want to mess anything up, I’ll skip my parties, and I am not having any indulgences or experiences over the Christmas season.
The people pleaser mentality – I really don’t want to eat cousin Tina’ Christmas cake, but I just feel like I should not to be rude. Reality is, cousin Kathy will probably not even notice, or even think twice about it.
The guilty mentality – Wow that Christmas dinner at Auntie Kathy’ was amazing, but now I am not going to eat for the next two days because I feel so guilty about going off my plan.
And, below is a realistic way to ditch guilt, and indulge mindfully…
Ditch the Guilt and Mindfully Indulge
10 Ways to Beat the Holiday 10
Smells of fresh gingerbread cookies in the oven, getting together with loved ones or sipping on a rum and eggnog by the warm fire. The holidays bring with them so many warm memories and traditions, and lots of opportunities for extra indulgences. As we enter this six to eight week festive season and face all the temptations that come with it, it’s no surprise that the average Canadian will gain 10 lbs over the holidays, and many of which struggle to getting it off.
No one wants to pass up the pleasures of the Holidays, so mindfully enjoy your indulgences and bring in this New Year feeling healthy, satisfied and light with these 10 Tips!
#1 – EXERCISE IS A MUST
Exercising 30 minutes per day during the holiday season will help you burn a few extra calories (250-300 calories) and offset the extra indulgences. Make exercise fun and embrace the winter season with some outdoor activities the entire family can join in on.
It takes an excess of 3500 calories to put on one pound of fat. While this may sound like a lot, consider the high calorie listed below:
Tall Starbucks Gingerbread Latte – 400 calories
Peppermint white chocolate mocha – 540 Calories
Eggnog Latte – 470 calories
Stuffing (100g) – 231 calories
1 slice Christmas Cake – 350 calories
1 glass wine – 90-245 calories
It adds up, especially with the Holiday Season lasting four to six weeks!
#2 – KNOW YOUR INTENTION BEFORE THE PARTY
Keep your holiday indulgences balanced by planning and knowing your intention before the party.
For example – at my work Christmas party I am going to have two glasses of wine and dessert, but I am going to keep away from the high fat high calorie appetizers at the beginning of the night and bread at dinner.
#3 – BRING SOMETHING HEALTHY TO THE PARTY
Dazzle your friends, family and coworker with a healthy and delicious new recipe. This will also give you some healthier options for the party. If you are pressed for time consider a fresh fruit or veggie tray, olives, pickles or mixed nuts form your local grocer of healthy options!
#4 – DON’T GO TO THE PARTY HUNGRY
Set yourself up for success and have a healthy snack 45 minutes before you go to the party such as veggies and hummus, fruit and nut butter, protein shake, a handful of nuts and seeds or a bowl of soup. When we are hungry, we make irrational food choices, and tend to crave foods that are high in fats, refined carbs or sugars to get our blood sugars up.
A healthy snack will take the “edge” off so you can make good choices at your next party.
#5 – AVOID THE FOOD TABLE
It’s not uncommon for the action of the party to revolve around the food table or in the kitchen. To stay on top of your game and keep true to your intentions at the next party think of getting a plate, filling it up with up your top choices and find a comfortable seat elsewhere in the room to sit down and enjoy your food.
This will help you slow down and digest your food better. It will also help you keep track of how much you have eaten by using a plate instead of picking at the food as you stand by the food table.
#6 – WHAT’S THE SIZE OF YOUR PLATE?
It’s understandable that the bigger your plate, the more you pile on and the more you end up eating.
If you have an option, choose a smaller plate as you will likely eat more reasonable portion sizes and this way if you choose to go back for seconds then you can do so without over eating.
#7 – CHOOSE YOUR GLASS WISELY
Size matters! Much like choosing the size of your plate, choosing the size of your glass can significantly impact how much you drink.
Consider drinking a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage to keep you hydrated and reduce chances of a hangover the next day.
#8 – SPEAKING OF ALCOHOL
Increased consumption of alcohol over the holidays is certainly a big source of extra sugars and extra calories. All alcohol breaks down to sugar and our body is limited in the amount of sugar it can store and extra sugar consumption goes right to the waistline.
Specialty Christmas drinks such as spiked eggnog, Bailey’s and other liquors are particularly high in sugar. Also, be mindful of pop, juice or other mixes used in your drinks that contain a lot of extra sugar. Consider using water or soda for mix and limes or lemons for flavour.
#9 – INDULGE IN MODERATION
There in absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying all of the flavours that the Christmas season has to offer. When you are indulging, take your time, eat the food and really enjoy it and feel great about the choices you are making.
#10 – MAKING NEW FAMILY RITUALS
Create new healthier family traditions this holiday season! Consider visiting Waterloo Park after your big family dinner to see the lights or tour around your own neighborhood to see what’s sparkling.
Consider starting off Christmas day with a family walk/hike, tobogganing or snow showing. If there is an ice rink nearby, tie up the skates and get out for a leisure skate or family hockey game.