From vast mountains of mashed potatoes and gravy, to honey-baked hams the size of your head, to tempting Christmas cookies at every house you visit – the holidays aren’t always the kindest to our diets or our waistlines. But are they really the grave threat to our health that so many make them out to be? Let’s discuss, with a few tips for staying healthy during the most decadent time of the year.
Tip #1: Portion Control
Here’s a revolutionary idea: When you’re watching your figure and you see that fresh-baked pecan pie, you don’t have to run screaming. In fact, “forbidding” ourselves from certain foods only has the psychological effect of making us crave them more. Instead of seeing certain holiday treats as the enemy, allow yourself to enjoy them in moderation. Savor each bite and enjoy the experience fully without guilt. One cookie here and there, one helping of creamy green bean casserole, isn’t going to kill you – or even make you gain weight. It’s only repeated overeating that has that effect. So instead of tricking your brain into wanting these foods even more than you already do, give yourself complete freedom to enjoy them in reasonable portions. Life is way too short to miss out on that one dish you look forward to the whole year.
Tip #2: Incorporate Movement into Holiday Festivities
This tip is particularly useful if you have hyperactive grandchildren. There are many enjoyable ways to celebrate the holidays while moving around, from family flag football games to strolling around town to admire Christmas lights. It won’t even feel like exercise, but it’ll help offset some of those extra pounds that many of us pack on during the holidays. Plus, it’ll wear out the kids, making for a more relaxing and stress-free holiday celebration – because tired kids are happy kids. (That’s often true for adults, too!)
Tip #3: Lay Off the Booze
A glass of eggnog (or two) can make the whole holiday feel instantly more fun and less stressful. There’s nothing wrong with having a little something to take the edge off at big family gatherings – just be careful not to overdo it, because alcohol is one of the most fattening beverages you can consume, without filling you up like food does. Plus, in large quantities, it will only lead to hangovers and headaches, which suck all the fun out of your day. To best enjoy holiday parties, either abstain or maintain a smart balance with your alcohol consumption.
Tip #4: Stay Calm
Gaining a little weight over the holiday season is completely normal, and nothing to beat yourself up over. Trust that your eating habits will level off once the new year comes around, and don’t stress too much. Did you know that many scientific studies have found that stress can actually contribute to weight gain? So not only is it unproductive to stress, but it can actually be counterproductive to your weight goals. Try to keep a calm mindset about normal holiday weight gain. It doesn’t mean the end of your health journey.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays from your HealthKeeperz family! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @HealthKeeperz and share with us ways that you’re staying healthy this holiday season.