The time to wind down, take a break from work and spend some quality time with our loved ones is finally here! We are all feeling jolly and ready to make merry but unfortunately, we can’t ignore the fact that food is a huge part of bonding and spreading cheer. So, how do we make sure all the efforts we’ve been putting into healthy eating and weight management throughout the year don’t just go down the drain? How do we ensure we still get to have our fun without taking steps back in our overall progress?
First things first, keep your pantry stocked up with healthy alternatives just like you have been doing all year long. Think nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruits, cheese and yoghurt. However, this does not mean you cannot indulge in your favourite sweets; you just have to do it with INTENTION. Knowingly planning when to indulge, what to indulge on and in what amount reduces the chances of overdoing it while also eliminating the shame and guilt that usually comes with it. Therefore, when planning your meals for the day, include that decadent piece of cake you really enjoy, be present while eating it and most importantly allow yourself to actually savour it because you are in control. This is NOT a “cheat” meal or something you do in secret. You have purposefully made a decision and the best part is it won’t negate all the previous effort you have been putting in.
The phrase “there is food” at home should really come in handy during this season. This looks like eating before leaving the house or even grabbing a healthy snack on your way out to a party or gathering so you are not tempted to eat everything in sight on arrival. When eating out, remember to be conscious about what’s on your plate. As usual, include a variety but capitalize on your protein and vegetables intake, use a side plate, eat slowly and remember to wait 30 minutes before going back for a second helping to determine if you’re still hungry. The goal is to remain mindful and honour your limits. This ensures you know to stop eating when full, drink responsibly and keep hydrated even when in a large group of people.
As much as we all enjoy time off during the holidays, we must admit that this period comes with its fair share of stress and it is common to use food as way to cope. This means instead of eating in response to hunger, you do so in response to your emotions. Keeping up with your usual personal routine; i.e morning/evening routine even when spending time with family and friends helps keep you grounded. Be sure to check in with yourself through out the day and allow yourself to take breaks from the festivities to destress responsibly by taking a walk, a relaxing shower, meditating or even napping.
It might be difficult to keep up with your usual fitness routine but remember it doesn’t have be a gym work out for it to count. Since most of us spend the holidays with family and friends, get them involved in outdoor activities. Other than helping you guys to bond and dissipate the awkwardness at the dinner table, it is a great way to add movement to your holiday routine. This way you get to stay active and still have fun. So take walks together after a meal, let your inner child thrive by playing the games you used to enjoy in childhood, ride bikes together and if you’re vacationing, take advantage of that magnificent swimming pool and do some laps. A walk on the beach early in the morning to catch the sunrise sounds wonderful, don’t you think?
The mindset that you will make better decisions and resolutions in the new year can make you feel like the holidays are the one time you can over- indulge guilt free. However, this mentality is borne from a dieting culture that focuses on restriction and as we know this is not sustainable long term. After all, the forbidden fruit tastes sweetest.
The ultimate goal and flex; is to find a balance, a sweet spot really that allows you to keep healthy without feeling deprived and working to make it a lifestyle. This means that these healthy habits that you have cultivated over time serve you even during the holiday season hence there is no need to panic.
Now go forth and enjoy your the season because you’ve got this! Happy Healthy Holidays!