As we all know, the holidays provide several more reasons (as if Americans needed any more) to sit at the table or on the couch, and eat. Thanksgiving is our one national holiday that’s absolutely devoted to overeating. And Christmas meals are just like Thanksgiving, with some added presents and a tree. Then there’s New Years with far too many calorie-packed beverages. Every year around November come all the helpful tips on how to have a successful healthy Holiday season. Even so, many times it still turns out to be yet another very unhealthy, overindulgent season. Here are some down-to-earth steps you can take to prevent your December and January from being filled with guilt and regret.
Unfortunately this time of year can be filled with stress. One of the main culprits behind this stress (and depression and weight gain) is a reduction in structure within our daily routines. By maintaining your regular healthy eating habits and exercise routine in the face of the upcoming demands, you are providing stability and comfort to yourself. Daily routines help us stay on track with our food intake, as well as maintenance of sleep schedules which will help us prioritize the demands put on us.
Make A Preemptive Strike
Prepare yourself to stay strong during the holiday season by preemptively striking poor food and drink choices now. People who are pushing food in your face may mean well, but they are not helping. The people who really care about us want what is good for us. You don’t have to make it a long discussion, but let them know up front that your priority is to take care of yourself this year. Always start with an innocent refusal like “no thank you.” After that, if necessary, say what needs to be said. Be prepared, don’t be guilted in to eating something just because so-and-so made it or it’s a “special” occasion, there are continual, year-round reasons to eat, but there are far better reasons to take control of your health!
Fail to Plan = Plan to Fail
Plan to fill every plate you have with high-volume, low-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables. Then, and only then, should you add the rest, while being mindful of portions. Instead of eating non-stop, plan to talk more so you can get to know your friends and family better, as dangerous as that can be. As one author says “You will be surprised, it might actually make your holiday what the holidays were supposed to be in the first place.”
Whatever you do, don’t stop exercising now with the intention of starting back up at a later time! Maintaining the momentum of your regular exercise routine is much easier than trying to re-establish it again at a later date, say, January 1.
Not to mention, exercise can reduce depressive symptoms sometimes associated with the extra activities surrounding family, company, traveling, cooking, finances, etc. At such times we need something to elevate our mood so we can better enjoy the season… did someone say ‘exercise’?
Honesty is the Best Policy
Be honest with yourself; Take your plans and the season seriously. Just because it’s a ‘holiday’ does not give you a free pass from reality. Though many holiday weight gain numbers are typically inflated (i.e. the average American does not gain 15 lbs. Nov-Dec), the real problem lies in that whatever weight is gained during the holidays, tends never to be lost.