So many of us go in to the holiday season with an all-or-nothing attitude. We know there will be parties and family dinners of tables laden with rich, delicious, calorie-filled foods, so it’s tempting to discard healthy habits for the season.
First, get rid of that attitude! Instead, make a different reality. One that celebrates both the season and your health. After all, each holiday and each party is just one event amidst many ordinary days. Managing each temptation wisely and being smart every day goes a long way towards a healthy springtime down the road.
To start the season off right, get moving right away, even before that first holiday event. Be active, whether it’s the gym, enjoying a walk, parking your car farther away or taking the steps. Wear a pedometer or other fitness tracking device and try to achieve a daily goal.
The day of any calorie-laden event, make sure to schedule time for quality exercise, high-intensity if possible, like brisk walking, jogging or biking. This will help your body burn calories more efficiently and might even help curb your appetite. Don’t skip meals that day—though you may feel that will offset your feasting calories, skipping meals throws off your metabolism. Finally, don’t arrive at the table with an empty stomach. Instead, have a healthy snack beforehand, like raw veggies or a glass of skim milk.
The choices you make while enjoying the holiday foods can help you stay healthy—and even enjoy the event more. First, use a smaller plate. Focus on foods like lean, white meat turkey or fresh fruit and steamed vegetables while choosing smaller portions of foods that are higher in sugar or fat. Don’t pile on the standard, way-too-big, American-sized portion. Drink plenty of water, and choose cocktails carefully, such as a wine spritzer. Don’t rush, but enjoy and savor every bite you take, while also indulging in conversation with family and friends.
Finally, eat just until you aren’t hungry anymore—not until you’re stuffed!
Granted, that last piece of advice may be the hardest. With all of those once-a-year treats still there on the serving table, saying “no” to more can be a challenge. To avoid succumbing to seconds, change your environment: get up, get active, go outside, take a walk or play a game.
And then, that next day, celebrate the memories and get back to normal. Have a healthy breakfast and be active. Extend the celebration only with healthy leftovers like lean turkey on whole wheat bread.
During the holidays, enjoy the food but don’t let it control you. Focus instead on what the holidays are really all about anyway: spending time with family and friends.