This got me to thinking about how I have been able to maintain my weight without stressing about eating during the holidays and some key things came to mind. I can guarantee you they don’t include skipping the next Ugly Sweater Party. Here’s my 5 tips for surviving the holidays without stressing over food.
1. Deciding to eat or not eat that dish won’t make or break your healthy lifestyle journey
Creating healthy habits begins with a mindset shift. The first thing you must come to terms with is that what you decide to do one day at one gathering will not make or break you. No one ever instantly became overweight by eating that slice of pie and vice versa, no one ever instantly dropped 10 pounds by avoiding it. How your body functions (because I hope you’re focused on more than just the aesthetics) is more about your consistent actions over time. So enjoy the piece of pie (or don’t), but for goodness sake don’t stress about it.
2. Don’t skip meals the day of an event.
I can remember starving myself Thanksgiving or Christmas morning in anticipation of a big meal later on that day. Can I tell you it only left me crabby, light headed, and starving by the time it was finally time to pull a chair up to the table. Some adverse effects include a too low blood glucose level, headache, and the tendency to binge when you finally get around to eating. I know you’re looking forward to all. the. stuff., but promise me that you’ll enjoy a light breakfast (preferably with some protein to help you stay full) to ward off those nasty side effects.
3. Stay Hydrated.
It’s a pretty well-known fact that at a minimum we should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water (or your body weight in ounces) daily. Did you know that you should increase your water intake if you’re going to be indulging in alcoholic beverages or rich foods (especially those that may be saltier than your normal choices). Both alcohol and salty foods can lead to dehydration, especially if you’re not getting enough water. Another benefit is that drinking water will help you feel full and decrease the enticement of over-eating. Try starting your evening with a glass of water, then alternate a glass of water with each alcoholic beverage you consume.
4. Eat until you’re satisfied, not until you’re stuffed.
This can be a tough one, especially if you already have hang-ups surrounding food. It takes practice to learn how to slow down and be more present while eating versus eating every crumb on your plate before your brain even registers you’re full. Did you know that it takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to register satiety and relay that message back to your stomach? I think we’ve all had moments where we’re eating and talking and drinking and then we push back from the table only to find we can barely breathe we’re so stuffed. Try keeping your portions small, savor each fork or spoon of food you eat, then go back for more if you’re truly still hungry.
5. Don’t neglect physical activity during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
Between normal life activities and the increase in busyness due to parties, shopping, and traveling during the holiday season, it’s easy to fall off your exercise/physical activity routine. Not only will remaining physically active help with maintaining your normal weight during the holiday season, an often forgotten benefit is that it can be used to manage stress. Get creative with how you stay active over the holidays, some ideas include doing a 5k fun run/walk with your girlfriends, parking further from the entrance when you go shopping, getting out on the dance floor and breaking a sweat at the next party you go to, or packing some exercise bands in your suitcase for your next trip.
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