Holiday Health: We understand the temptation to ‘let go’ over the festive season and overindulge in delicious food and fancy beverages… not to mention the desserts!
Over the years, we’ve seen healthy lifestyle and fitness goals go out the window as soon as holiday events come up, and it’s not uncommon for people to just accept that notable weight gain in Fall/ Winter is inevitable.
After New Year’s, so many then strive to get ‘back on the wagon’ come January (sadly a resolution that often fizzles out by February/ March…). To close out 2021 and begin 2022, how about we approach things differently?
With an eye to being comfortable and confident in your skin next Spring (yes it’s far off now but it will come – it always does) it’s a good idea.
This year we challenge you to change your attitude and implement our Top 5 tips for comfortably navigating this festive season to prevent the seasonal bulge many have been taught is unavoidable.
1. Aim for balance
Holiday eating: As special occasions are generally centered around food, the holiday period provides plentiful opportunities to overindulge in food and drinks. But just because food and drinks are available, this is not a reason to eat as much as you can or ‘get your money’s worth’ from parties and gatherings.
It seems many have this ‘all or nothing’ mentality, and forget that you don’t need to eat and drink to extremes when presented with the opportunity. In fact, we recommend you swiftly shelve that mindset, and enjoy holiday parties with health in mind.
You might approach the situation by eying the goodies available and going for only your favourites, or maybe filling your plate with lean protein and veggies to quell your appetite and enjoying a dessert or two to finish.
Whatever your preferred plan of attack, the ultimate goal (some trial and error will be needed): Find a comfortable middle ground where you can still go out and have a great time but minimize the damage by going overboard.
PRIORITY: Make healthy choices when you can, while aiming for some sort of balance, whatever that looks like for you!
2. Have a plan
Be proactive and think ahead. Going into a gathering with even a vague plan will help you stay in control of your food and drink choices, and help prevent you from majorly checking out for the festive celebration. You may not know specific details of the event you’ll be attending, but having even a flexible plan will help you stay on track.
Again, the ultimate goal with this planning: Find a comfortable middle ground where you can still go out and have a great time but minimize the damage by going overboard.
PRIORITY: Consider the choices available to you leading up to the event and strive to make well informed ones that will leave you feeling good overall when the event is said and done.
3. Outsmart the obsessive feeder
We all know at least one of these. Typically it’s our mom, an enthusiastic aunt, or grandparent, but it could be anyone you know – even well-meaning friends! These friends often coax you into ordering dessert so they don’t feel alone in the indulgence, or order you another drink even though you said you’d sit this one out. We often hear about it, and know this challenge is faced by many.
We recommend you have some good lines prepared to deflect the food pusher. Here are some great phrases to kindly tell the individual to lay off:
- “I’ve had some thanks; it was delicious”
- “I’m actually parched; could I please have a glass of water?”
- “I physically couldn’t fit another one in, but thank you”
In our experience, following comments such as this up with a swift change in topic works well – especially when you ask about something in their life to switch topics (eg. work, kids, school…).
PRIORITY: Don’t let anyone push you to eat or drink beyond your own personal limits. You may have to be firm at first, but very quickly others will realize you have limits that should be respected.
4. Stay Active
Social occasions don’t always need to be centered around food and alcohol. Though maybe not immediately evident, the holiday season provides plenty of opportunities to stay active. And the holidays often also mean there’s more time for those longer adventures.
Depending on the time of year you could spend the afternoon biking through colourful fall leaves, picking out and carving pumpkins, sledding or tubing, riding the slopes on skis/a snowboard, snowshoeing or hiking in normal shoes if appropriate, build a snow family, or take your dog (or a friends) out for a walk or jog.
PRIORITY: Aim to move every day, even if it’s a 30-minute walk or jog in or outside.
5. Avoid overdoing it with alcohol
Love/hate relationship? We get it.
Unpopular truth: alcohol is packed with calories, impairs muscle recovery when consumed in large amounts, causes hangovers and dehydration… It also loosens our inhibitions, which increases the likelihood of eating things you probably wouldn’t normally.
If you need a hand managing alcohol consumption over this season, check out our blog on the topic which has some great lower calorie drink alternatives.
If you’re going to drink, drink. Enjoy it. Just choose wisely and keep an eye on your total consumption. We’re not the fun police – just trying to educate.
PRIORITY: Moderation in all things, especially when it comes to alcohol.
Bottom Line: Don’t let the festive season call the shots.
- Enjoy the time spent with friends and family without feeling guilty about the choices you’ve made.
- Make healthy decisions when you can, and rather than switching off, remain in control of your choices. Listen to your body and stop eating when your appetite is content and you’re comfortably full.
- Find a balance between enjoyment and being too hard on yourself that you miss out on the fun altogether.
Our goal is for you to enjoy the season and all it has to offer without regret or any negative feelings around your choices.
Be kind to your body, it’s the only one you’ve got!
More Holiday Eating tips at Today’s Dietitian