There are so many temptations during the holiday season it’s no wonder many of us get stressed over how to get through it all while still being able to fit into our jeans come January 1st.
As someone who loves food, giving up great food during the holidays for me isn’t an option. And it shouldn’t be for you either.
So here are a few ways to bring pleasure — not the pounds — to the holiday festivities:
1) Aim to maintain. I recently heard about someone who skipped her friends holiday party because she was dieting and thought there would be too many tempting foods. To me that’s unfortunate and not so healthy. Instead of trying to completely overhaul your diet and lose weight during the holidays, try to maintain your current weight.
And if you really do want to lose weight, be realistic about just how much you can lose and don’t beat yourself for having a few treats.
2) Don’t completely deny yourself of holiday foods. This time of year is all about celebration and festivity, and food is an integral part of that. When you tell yourself you can’t have certain foods, you want them even more (studies even prove this). That’s when overeating, bingeing and feeling out of control becomes part of your holiday experience. So eat the holiday foods you enjoy, just don’t over-do it.
3) Eat three square meals a day, just like you should do all-year-round. It might make sense on paper to cut calories by skipping meals during the day when you know you’re going to a holiday party or dinner later. But this strategy almost always backfires and leads to overeating, low energy, guilt, and generally feeling bad.
So take the time to have a decent breakfast that will help you feel full and keep your energy up.
4) Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. No matter what you eat, enjoy it. I’d rather see someone take a piece of cake and truly savor and enjoy it, than someone eating a salad and hating every minute of it, or wishing they were eating the cake instead.
5) Keep liquid calories in check. Oftentimes holiday drinks like eggnog are loaded with calories, sugar and fat. So beware. Also, best to limit all alcohol to one or two drinks. It not only adds extra calories, but after a few drinks its way to easy to reach for more food — even if you’re full. Often I’ll alternate between water and alcohol. This not only helps me cut down on alcoholic beverages, but keeps me hydrated so I don’t get a headache the next day!
6) Just say know to the junk food. Don’t blow your calories on things like chips or a candy bar. Instead, save your snack allowance for a decadent dish or your favorite dessert that will make you feel more satisfied. There are so many good treats around this time of year, best to have a small piece of something really good than the normal crappy, junk food!
7) Add exercise whenever and wherever you can. I try to maintain my exercise routine, but realize it can get hard when things get busy. But even if you can fit it one or two short sessions a week, that’s good. It will not only help you handle the stress of the busy season better, but it will keep you feeling fit and less likely to over-indulge later on at the party.
8) Share the joy of the food. Often I’ll take a piece of cake, have a few bites, and then give the rest to my husband. And if he doesn’t want it I’ll just push it aside. And if you love to bake (like I do!) give some away to friends and neighbors. I enjoy baking cookies, but I can only eat so many without putting on the pounds. So I’ll often share it with others, and they’re really happy!
So make this holiday season one of pleasure and one you remember for the good times with family and friends. Relax, enjoy yourself, and eat in moderation so you don’t have to forgo all the delicious holiday treats.