Oh, the holidays. We look forward to them all year, but they can also stress us out. And we're not just talking about the stress of organizing. The abundance of unhealthy food and overeating can be a source of anxiety. Most people gain 1 to 3 pounds over the holidays. Not a big drama on its own, except that many people never lose those extra pounds. How do we make the holidays a little healthier, so we can enjoy it guilt-free. Here are 7 tips...
1. Exercise More the Weeks Before
How not to worry about the small weight gain during Thanksgiving and Christmas? By shedding some extra weight beforehand! Start doing adding some cardio exercises the weeks before, lengthen your existing workouts, and/or eat smaller portions than usual. Possibly the simplest and most reliable way to stay healthy on track during the holidays, and diminish guilt.
2. Throw in Walks
You may not have time or motivation to go do full workouts, but a nice stroll can be very fitting holiday activity! Take the family for a walk in nearby nature and burn calories while enjoying the fall and winter weather. The cosier it is inside afterwards! If you are at a big party, there are always some people who are down for a little after-dinner walk.
3. Eat Beforehand
While you might be tempted to skip eating all day on Thanksgiving and Christmas to "save" some calories that way, it is actually wiser to eat something small before. Research has found this prevents people from binging on food. So don't let yourself go hungry, eat a fulfilling breakfast with a small portion of protein.
4. Choose Calmly
When you see all that food everywhere it's tempting to load up your plate with everything, but try to take a moment before. What dishes are there? What are your favorites? Which dishes are special? Go for only the things you really like and that you don't already have weekly. There is no need to try everything. And know that plain turkey, pumpkin pie and roasted veggies are healthier than gravy loaded red meat, chocolate cake and bean casseroles.
5. Be Mindful
When you do eat, savor! Put your fork down after every bite and eat consciously. Perhaps have a sip of water every few bites. Be present in the moment and really enjoy your food. It takes your mind about 20 minutes to realize you're full, so don't rush. Talking to people is also great to take your mind off the food. Traverse the room, speak to all those you haven't seen for a while. Enjoy!
6. Drink Water
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. It detoxes, helps move your food down to digestive tract, and also makes you feel satiated more quickly. If you can, try to drink water instead of soda, sugary juices, and alcoholic beverages. Drinking water on top of those is still a great idea, though. Add a little lemon or lime juice for an extra kick.
7. Use Healthy Holiday Recipes
You may not be able to control what others bring to the table, but you can control what you bring, so make it worth your while. There are many healthy holiday recipes around, but here are some quick tips:
- Grill, roast, broil, stir-fry, poach and steam food instead of frying or deep frying.
- Season turkey and other meat overnight with spices, rather than using creamy, heavy sauces
- Use fat-free chicken broth for gravy.
- Use fruit purees instead of butter and oil for baked goods.
- Use plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream for creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.