The Christmas holiday season is a time for joy, celebration, and, of course, food. With so many temptations around every corner, it’s also the time when your healthy lifestyle can go out the window. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to stay in shape while still enjoying all your favorite foods. Here are some tips to help you enjoy this festive season to the fullest without putting on weight.
- Be well-prepared.
Planning your meals ahead of time makes it much easier to keep your eating habit in check. As the holidays approach, make a list of every party and gathering you will participate in and create an action plan.
If you are eating out, look at the restaurant’s menu beforehand to get an idea of what healthy options are available. If you’re going to see grandma this Christmas and you know she’ll make a lot of treats that you can’t resist, decide beforehand how much you will have and be prepared to cut back on other foods to avoid overeating.
- Eat less at other times.
High-calorie foods are prevalent during the holiday season. But with some planning, you can still enjoy them without worrying much about gaining weight.
By being mindful of your food intake and eating smaller portions on normal days, you can eat more comfortably during special occasions. So, if you are going to a party in the evening, just have some healthy, light meals during the day. This allows you to indulge a bit more in your favorite foods while staying within your normal calorie intake.
- Drink enough water.
Whenever you feel like you’re getting hungry, you might just be thirsty. As the thirst and hunger cues are quite similar, our brains can sometimes confuse the two.
Making sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day will make it much easier to control your food intake. If you are going to a party and you’re afraid you might overeat, try to drink a cup of water before the meal. This is an effective way to regulate your hunger and increase your feeling of fullness.
- Don’t go to a party on an empty stomach.
People often think that if they don’t eat anything before a big meal, they can reduce their food intake. But that’s not the case. In fact, an empty stomach is more likely to lead to overeating. When you feel famished, it will be much harder to control yourself and eat in moderation. Moreover, drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is never a good idea.
If you don’t want to end up overindulging, have something to eat before going to a party. Not a full meal, but a light snack like some apple slices with peanut butter or a boiled egg would be enough.
- Drink moderately.
Many people can be mindful of the amount of food they eat, but they often underestimate the calories in their drinks. Do you know that a half-cup (4 oz.) serving of eggnog, everyone’s beloved winter drink, can contain up to 170 calories (and that’s not counting the shot of rum or brandy you may add)? Another infamous festive drink, champagne, has about 90 calories per glass, which may not sound like much but can add up quickly.
Holiday season is the time to celebrate and have fun, so you don’t have to restrict yourself from your favorite drinks. Just remember not to overdrink if you don’t want to regret it afterward.
- Eat slowly and mindfully.
Typically, it takes at least 20 minutes for our stomach to send the signal to our brain that we are full. Eating slowly gives your body time to register that it’s full and allows your digestive system to do its job properly. Next time you sit down for a meal, slow down your eating and pay attention to every bite. Listen to your body’s cues and stop when you feel satisfied. Also, don’t hesitate to say no to the next serving if you’re already full.
- Remember, consistency is key.
Have you ever heard the saying, “The first mistake is an accident; the second one is the start of a new habit”?
No matter how careful you are with your eating habits, it’s impossible to strictly follow your routine all the time. Maybe there’s an unscheduled gathering with friends, or maybe you could not stop yourself and have too much Christmas pudding. And that’s totally fine. These kinds of one-time accidents won’t affect your healthy lifestyle in the long run.
Even if you slip up, don’t try to “balance it out” after that by going overly restrictive and depriving yourself of food. One or two big meals won’t make you gain weight if you don’t turn it into a month of bingeing. Simply get back on track with your next meal.
- Move, move, move.
It’s already hard enough to maintain an active lifestyle in the cold weather, but with all the festivities, parties, and delicious foods, it’s even more of a challenge to stay active during the holiday season.
However, as we often consume more food during this period, do not neglect your daily exercise if you want to keep in shape. Physical activities such as skiing, hiking, jogging, or even just a 15-minute walk after meals are great ways to improve your health and have fun with your friends and family.
- Love yourself.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong pursuit, so don’t stress yourself too much over food and weight gain over this short period of time. After all, the the holiday season is the season of goodwill, and that starts with learning to love yourself. So just relax, be gentle with yourself, and enjoy delicious foods while creating precious memories with your loved ones.