Between work parties, gift exchanges and cookie swaps, December can be a time of high-sugar intake, low-physical activity and overindulgence. The good news – you can effectively stay on track with a healthy lifestyle while not completely depriving yourself! Using these five strategies can help you stay full of holiday cheer without overdoing it.
- Stay hydrated with water. Hydration is often an oversight while we’re shopping for gifts, decorating the house or staying late in the office. Your goal should be to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. Do this by constantly carrying a water bottle – you can’t drink it if it’s not there! Concerned you’ll go to the bathroom more often? That’s not necessarily a bad thing – you’ll end up getting in more steps and taking a break from your work routine. Just make sure to stop drinking an hour or two before bed if you find yourself disrupting sleep for a bathroom break.
- Eat a snack before holiday parties. While there may be temptation to fast on days you have an event or big dinner, this is not the right thought process. Skipping meals can lead to overeating, overdrinking and severe blood sugar imbalances. Have a light snack with protein and fiber before going to a dinner party, such as an apple with almond butter or a handful of raw nuts. This will maintain a stable blood sugar to avoid the temptation of a second (or third) plate.
- Stick to your routine as much as possible. If you typically start the day with a smoothie and end it with a jog, keep it up! Avoid the temptation to stop exercising and meal prepping due to excuses such as “it’s the holidays so I don’t have to be 100%” or “I’ll start back in January.” Keep your metabolism revving and maintain healthy bowel movements by consuming adequate veggies (i.e. 1-2 servings per meal) and moderate exercise throughout the week. It will make the transition to your usual routine schedule come January significantly easier.
- Enjoy the holiday food with extreme mindfulness. Meaning, when you choose to have that sugar cookie you’ve been thinking about since mid-October, eat it and enjoy it with all your might! Eat it slowly, savoring every bite. Chew 10-15 times before swallowing. Think about the smells, tastes, colors and textures you’re experiencing. Draw out the process as long as possible. This will lead to greater satiety and less desire to overindulge. Avoid feelings of guilt, regret or shame. You’ve stuck to your routine for the majority of the season (see #3 above), so you should enjoy this special moment with those around you.
- Be conscious of alcohol intake. Mulled wine, spiked eggnog and Irish coffee can seem like the perfect addition to your holiday season, but proceed with caution. These beverages are filled with added sweeteners that can be addictive, even more so when paired with inhibition-lowering alcohol. Try a wine spritzer instead by mixing 2 ounces of wine with 2 ounces of unsweetened sparkling water and top with frozen berries and an orange slice. Looking for a warm libation? Mix diluted, warm apple cider (3 ounces water, 2 ounces cider) with 2 ounces vodka and serve with a cinnamon stick.
Need additional support to stay on track this holiday season? Schedule a consultation with our registered dietitian, Katherine Mattox.