1) Prioritize your fitness. We all have been through the irony of the holiday season: it’s that time of year that is all about joy but actually brings a lot of stress. Obviously, getting your workouts in is important when you’re drinking eggnog and eating cookies on the reg. It’s also key to reduce your stress.
Whether you stress about finances, getting everything done in time, gaining weight, or spending time with family, exercise and activity will help you keep your cool. Find 30 minutes to an hour everyday that is just for you. That can be in the gym, in a yoga class or going for a long walk. Keep this “me-time” at the top of your to-do list so you can actually stay joyful during the holidays. And yes, get your activity in so you can burn some of the extra calories you may be taking in.
2) Find (and make) healthy recipes. Holiday food is probably the most common reason for weight gain over the season. Mama taught us to never show up empty handed, so every party has a table full of delicious temptations everyone brought to add to the holiday spirit. If you’re going to a party, or hosting one, make a healthy dish that you know you’ll feel good about eating.
You can find healthy recipes for just about anything, so why not make them for your friends and family this year? Check out these healthy holiday-inspired recipes. Make one for your next party… you don’t even have to tell people they’re good for them…
3) Take the focus off food. Although it seems like the time of year when clean-eating goes out the window and every gathering is centered on unhealthy food, it doesn’t have to be. Try to move the focus to something else, or anything else. Use each holiday or gathering as a time to enjoy the people you’re with and let the food be an afterthought, not the other way around. Show up with a game instead of a dessert; go for an evening walk instead of having that nightcap, focus most on conversation at the table rather than the breadbasket.
4) Watch out for liquid calories. Alcoholic beverages and sodas are loaded with empty calories, sugars that don’t do much good for your nutrition or health. You don’t have to totally avoid these drinks, but limit them to the times you know you’ll have them. If you are going to a party at night, drink water all day long. When you do drink, alternate between alcohol and water. Not only does alcohol inhibit your better judgment (leading you to have that second or third piece of pie) it can mess with your blood sugar and digestion.
5) Survey the buffet before filling your plate. If it’s not on your plate, you’re not going to eat it. (Unless you totally ignored tip #4 and are getting rowdy at a holiday party.) Take a look at everything offered at the buffet table and then go back to the beginning to choose what you’re actually going to take. Slowing down and being more mindful of what you’re going to eat will let your brain do the decision making, not your eyes. You’ll have a better idea of what you want to indulge in and what you can skip.
6) Choose 1 indulgence. Just because you want to stay healthy this holiday season doesn’t mean you have to skip out on all the good stuff. All you really have to do is limit it. When you have a party to go to, choose one indulgence you are going to partake in and leave the rest. If having creamy, high-fat entrees is what you want, go for it. Just skip the dessert and alcohol. If you’re going to have some drinks when you’re out, eat a salad for your main course and pass on dessert.
If dessert is what you want drink lots of water and make sure you have a dinner full of vegetables and protein. You don’t have to sacrifice everything, just some things.
7) Be prepared for peer pressure. But don’t give in! If you’re the only one at the party who is drinking water or passes when desserts come out, be prepared for some unsupportive comments from those around you. Your friends and family may try to coerce you into indulging, but stick to your guns. Odds are their comments are coming from insecurities of not working out or eating healthy that they’re jealous of you for doing. You know why you’re making the healthy choices, so let that keep you on track.
Having a little bit of guilt from skipping the cake your mom baked just for you is better than all the calories it’s going to come with.