Holidays don’t have to be hard. A little planning and a lot of willpower will go a long way towards helping you achieve your goals. I first worked on these healthy eating and weight loss holiday tips a few years ago and have updated them every year since.
Tip #1 – Have one basic health & wellness goal. Pick one overriding goal that you can focus on as the activities come swirling around you.
Tip #2 – Stay active. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but staying active and not giving into the temptation to sit in front of a roaring fire eating chocolate will serve you well until the end of the year!
Tip #3 – Find a new food to try. It’s so easy for me to get stuck in a rut with my food choices and there is no more big a rut than holiday food. Who says you have to have pumpkin pie? Why not try something new and healthy? Why not?
Tip #4 – Plan the big meals early. By planning for the Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving meal now, you will be able to release it in your mind. You know what you are having, where you are going, and what you are bringing. Then you can focus on enjoying the day and eating the foods you love in moderation.
Tip #5 – Try a new physical activity – We all get bored with our routines now and then. What better way to keep focused on our healthy goals than by incorporating something new. Me? I’m going to commit to riding my bike two days a week from now until Christmas. This way I’ll be working different muscle groups and improving my fitness.
Tip #6 – Wash Your Hands Often – OKAY! I know it’s not a health/eating tip, but it really is. Washing your hands has been shown to greatly reduce both the transmission of illness and the chance that you will get sick. Also, if you are cooking, it’s vital to wash your hands thoroughly and keep meats separated from veggies. (One day I’ll tell you my eColi story – not good.) So wash your hands!
Tip #7 – Look for Healthy Substitutions – It’s so much easier to find lower fat foods to substitute for high fat foods. If you need to bring chips to a function consider bringing baked chips, homemade tortilla chips, or lower fat tortilla chips. By making these healthy substitutions you are doing everyone a favor. And if you make your own bean/corn salsa even better!
Tip #8 – Say No If You Want - If you can’t stand Aunt Jo’s fruitcake then politely refuse. If those sweet potatoes don’t do it for you, then just say no if you want. One thing I’ve learned is that although it’s not always easy to say no, but in the end, when it comes to weight loss/maintenance, it’s about what will move you forward.
Tip #9 – Choose Your Beverages Carefully – You read that right – don’t drink your calories. Be it sweet tea, regular cokes, or alcoholic beverages, if you drink your calories then you are leaving less room for nutritious foods that really fill you up. If you are going to choose an alcoholic beverage as a treat, make sure you plan for it within your daily calories.
Tip #10 - Buy A Gift For Yourself – This may sound strange, but I’m all for treating yourself during the holiday season. Every fall I buy myself a little something that makes me feel good about myself. This year I’m getting a pair of black boots. Silly? Maybe. Fun? Definitely. (I’ll show them to you one Saturday soon!) [If you are a math person you know I'm a day ahead - I like this tip so I left it up a day early!]
Tip #11 – What dessert? - You know that I’m all about moderation, but I’d encourage you to choose now what you dessert for those special meals will be. Don’t go into the party thinking you will sample a few. Go in there planning on sampling one, maybe two. Really think about whether or not you even love that food !
Tip #12 – Slow down. – It really does take about 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that you are no longer hungry. And if you are eating so fast that you can’t even remember what you first put in your mouth – then slow down a bit! Enjoy the conversation and the atmosphere! (This is really a tip I made up just for myself, because I am the Queen of Eating Too Fast!)
Tip #13 – Don’t skip meals. – You may be tempted to skip meals here or there during the holiday season. Personally, I don’t feel that this is a good or healthy strategy. Yes, it’s okay to have a light lunch if you know you are going out that evening, but if you skip a meal completely you run the risk of being so hungry later that you binge! So don’t skip meals, but rather plan your meals carefully!
Tip #14 – Increase your exercise intensity – Now is a great time to increase the intensity of your exercise. You may not have an extra 15 minutes a day to exercise, but you can certainly ramp things up while you are working out. If you walk, walk faster in intervals . If you are a runner, try some sprints, etc. And don’t forget to keep working on getting stronger. Don’t slack off just because the calendar says “Christmas is coming!”
Tip #15 - If you must bake – Some of you love to bake, or are asked to bake treats for others during the holiday season. If you must bake, bake only what’s needed and no more. If you have extras, have a taste if you love it, and then get rid of it. I know that seems cruel, but you can do it. (Believe me, I understand, because I do love to bake!)
Tip #16 – Keep a food journal – This is something that I did periodically along my journey. This time of year, when there are so many extra temptations out there it may be a good idea to keep a little journal of your food intake. This is particularly helpful if you have the desire to lose weight during December and not just maintain!
Tip #17 – Pay Attention to Portions – It’s so important, especially during this “bring it all on” time of year to be mindful of your portions.
Tip #18 – Drink More Water – We all know that drinking more water is good for us in so many different ways. Don’t slack off now, even when the weather gets colder.
Tip #19 – Reduce Stress by Finishing Shopping Now – It’s stressful enough trying to get through the holidays without a big gain – why add to the stress by rushing around from store to store at the last minute. (Not that I have ever done this before.) Shop now before it’s a madhouse out there!
Tip #20 – Get Your Veggies – I know the farmer’s markets are shuttered, so explore the frozen section of your grocery store. Frozen foods are said to be more nutritious than canned, and some studies say they can be more nutritious than fresh!
Tip #21 - Think Green – Think about adding green tea into your day. It is full of antioxidants and other good things.
Tip #22 - Don’t Let Yourself Get Too Hungry – It’s difficult enough to stay on track with the abundance of food around right now but keep the hunger at bay by eating regularly planned meals.
Tip #23 – Go Tight – Instead of wearing your baggy pants or loose fitting dress. Wear something fitted and cinched at the waist. You may be surprised how that reminds you to not overeat!
Tip #24 – Watch the dips and sauces – There is no better way to add calories to something than by smothering it with high fat dips and sauces. Angel food cake is good without chocolate sauce – trust me!
Tip #25 – Volunteer – I know it’s not food related, but volunteering at a shelter or food bank is a great way to keep the focus on the real meaning of the holidays.
Tip #26 – Consider Vitamin D Supplements – We normally get enough Vitamin D from moderate sun exposure. This can be hard during the winter months.
Tip #27 – Check out Seasonal Produce – Believe it or not there are some winter fruits like pomegranates, cranberries, squashes, oranges, apples, and some grapes that are in season! Use them, enjoy them!
Tip #28 – Turn off the TV – It’s fun to watch some TV, but it’s just as much fun to turn it off, play with the family, or have a game night.
Tip #29 - Enlist help – Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends to change how they celebrate to help keep you on track.
Tip #30 – If you are traveling, make sure you wipe down the airplane seat dividers, the pull-down tray latch and anything else you might touch.Pack your own food to save calories and your sanity!
Tip #31 – Try not to taste too much. When cooking, it can be tempting to taste, taste, taste. Limit yourself to no tastes, or just one. Those little calories add up fast.
Tip #32 – Make half of the recipe. I often do this when I bake. If the recipe calls for 6 dozen cookies, I just make half.
Tip #33 - Don’t serve from the table – This made a big difference for me and my hubby. Not serving from the table meant I had to get up if I wanted seconds, and who wants to get up?
Tip #34 – Use your brain power – Spend time reading, doing puzzles, and talking with your friends instead of eating.
Tip #35 – In a new city for a visit? Ask the local gym if they have a trial membership for free. Most of them do!
Tip #36 – Only celebrate one time – Christmas really is just one day, so save your nice meal for that day if you can. If there are other celebrations, selectively eat, always rating your food.
Tip #37 – Bring your own breakfast – If you are staying with relatives, bring your own healthy breakfast so that you know you are starting the day on the right foot!
Tip #38 - Sleep is king! – Try hard to stay on your usual schedule if you can. It’s so easy to get tired, and eat mindlessly without even realizing it.
Tip #39 – Take your vitamins – Keep your immune system strong even if you are worn-out by not skimping on nutrition, so take your vitamins!
Tip #40 - Watch the thin people – If you model your amount of food based on what the thinner people at the table eat, you may be able to easily control your portions.
Tip #41 – Slow down – If you are a fast eater (like me) slow down and smell the pot roast. It will make a big difference in how much you eat as you give your brain time to signal, “I’m full!”
Tip #42 – Chew gum – Gum is a great way to keep your mouth busy without eating. If you are sensitive to artificial sweeteners, make sure to check the labels.
Tip #43 – Hard candy – This is similiar to gum. Hard candy and gum got me through many a holiday event. Seriously.
Tip #44 – Leave the table – It can be tempting to sit around and pick at the food that is left. Don’t do it – take the iniatitive and leave the table to move to another locale!
Tip #45 – Eat a variety of foods – It’s important to keep your food intake balanced. It can be easy to load up on carbs, or high fat foods, or sugary treats. Make sure to keep a healthy balance.
Tip #46 – Don’t get too hungry – If you get too hungry it might be hard to resist Aunt Ima’s sweet potato casserole. Eat regularly to avoid this common problem.
Tip #47 – Weigh-in – Even if you aren’t a daily weigh”er” person – don’t forgo the scale completely during this month. Check in with yourself to monitor your progress.
Tip #48 – Relax – It’s just food. Just take some pressure off yourself, stay reasonable, and relax.
Tip #49 – Enjoy! – Don’t forget the reason for the celebration. It’s not just about the food – it’s about the relationships, the memories, and the special times.
Tip #50 – WOW! That was so many I can’t even think of another one. . .So, just live your life everyday, rather it’s a holiday or not. DianeNote: There is a print link embedded within this post, please visit this post to print it.