When the joyous and festive season fills the air, the holiday spirit becomes contagious. Between the holiday parties, office snacks, grandma’s famous desserts and cocktails with friends, there are many opportunities for indulging and gaining some unwanted pounds. Winter, as it is, brings a lethargy and longing for warmth that is found in the most decadent of comfort foods.
Bakeries start filling their shelves, there are pies on window sills, and mugs are topped with hot cocoa and marshmallows. Caution goes out the window and we stop fighting against the holiday spirit and put on the notorious burden we regret as soon as the New Year dawns: holiday weight.
It doesn’t need to be one or the other, though. You can indulge in your holiday treats and enjoy the tastes of the holiday feast as much as anyone else. There are only a few technical tips and tricks that you may want to integrate into your lifestyle.
Be prepared to start out your New Year already feeling like the new self you desire to be. Having already taken losing weight off of your list of resolutions. Let your body and mind benefit from the best of this holiday season. We need to say goodbye to the guilt, shame and hard feelings that we weigh on ourselves through the holiday season. It’s time to release that weight and enjoy!
Plan Your Proportions
Our elementary school food pyramid has been cutting out portions for us from the time when we were learning our ABCs. It is time to take it into consideration a little more when it comes to picking from the dinner table. Yes, you can have that piece of pie or holiday treat, but do not skip on your portion of fruits and vegetables. When it comes to the delicious holiday foods we look forward to all year, be mindful of balance. A balance you must create between all the foods from the table.
Remember your food pyramid and you will have no extra weight to worry about. Just a healthy holiday glow from all the portions you make up. Limit your processed, sugar foods and fill your plate largely with protein and vegetables. Leaving a smaller portion size for the tastes you love and want to try. It’s not about deprivation, but keeping the serving sizes at bay.
The way people let themselves go is quite literally by letting themselves “go”. Holiday weight is not unavoidable – in fact, it may result from people’s belief that there is no stopping holiday weight so they indulge with no limitations. I’ve been there in the past, so I totally get it. It’s almost like the holiday allows for a “free for all.” That may have been the case before, but not this year. Have set quantities that you have allowed for certain foods. Set rewards and penalties (in a healthy way that works for you) for how well you abide by those limits. Healthy rewards that support a healthy relationship with food. You may have an entire plate of mashed potatoes in front of you, but that does not mean you should keep spooning from the dish. For me, I love cheese and wine. I would rather enjoy the sugar and calories of a glass of wine over a conversation with my girlfriends than I would shoving pumpkin pie in my face. Pick and choose your choices based on your tastes, events and goals. Keep this in mind when it comes to taking home leftovers too!
Remember the commitment you have made to yourself – not by complete abstinence but by only a little of a good thing. It keeps the novelty factor running and keeps your body and mind happy.
Yes, there is no work, no college, no commitments. There is, however, joy in the moving around. Remind yourself of how walks in the winter feel so refreshing. Include basic morning exercises to remind yourself that while the rest of the world may be giving into the holidays, it does not mean that you have to conform too. Find a few minutes every day to move around, take a walk, do stretches.
Our bodies naturally want to slow down during the colder winter seasons. Our movement or form of movement may shift but adding in something daily is key. Try a new class, walk the dog, or grab a girlfriend and work your body and mind in a yoga class. Remember that movement also allows you extra holiday treat time or that glass of wine.
Eating a lot does not make you put on weight. Accept this mantra. It is the how and what you eat that makes you gain the unwelcome weight. Space out your meals with smaller portions. You do not have to eat until the pants come unbuttoned at the dinner table. Give your stomach (and digestion) the time to process and metabolize. Start eating early in the morning and you will have an entire day of holiday treats, just in smaller, more frequent portions than the overeating traditions of before.
Furthermore, I do not recommend attending an event famished. Yup, I used to do that too. I would not eat all day and gorge at a holiday party. Not a good idea, my friends! Eat throughout the day and especially before an event. Healthy options! If you’re taking a dish, make a healthy one to share and one you know you can eat from.
Hydration is very important but it’s especially so during the holiday season. A time when we are running around, eating more, moving less and under a larger amount of stress. Hydration is not only beneficial to the body but it helps to flush toxins as well. Toxicity comes in many forms. Especially from the foods we eat. Our skin, hair and nails have more damage during these colder months, so hydration will help support the body during this time. In addition, when we are properly hydrated, we crave and eat less. Often times we think we are hungry but it could be emotional or from lack of hydration. Try to opt for plain water over sugary drinks, caffeine and additives. Don’t like plain water? Try infusing it with lemons, limes, fruit and fresh herbs. Cranberries and fresh rosemary are a great duo this time of the year.
Have Fun and Soak Up the Season
The above tips are important and will help you maintain your weight (and sanity,) but it’s important to get back to center and remember what this season is all about. Lack of rest, stress, emotional eating and shaming can all be hard on the body and mind. Practice mindfulness, self-care and implement the above tips while enjoying the festive season. Whether you indulge because of emotions, you feel obligated at your boss’ party or you’re letting it all go until 2020, think about the choices you’re making and what’s really behind those choices.
Taste the season, soak up the cheer, attend the parties and create the memories.
Cheers to a happy, healthy holiday season!