I can’t believe it…December already! Christmas is around the corner and although I have plenty of studying for finals to do, I am already dreaming of hot coco, gingerbread and evergreens.
The festive season is an exciting and joyful time but is also usually accompanied with high stress levels, lower fitness levels, and a few extra pounds of holiday weight.
It's no surprise that our health falls by the wayside with Christmas parties, dinners, concerts, buying gifts and seeing family, filling up our calendars and Christmas desserts with one too many glasses of wine, filling up our bellies. Add on top of that a lack of sleep and decreased exercise to make time for all these new events– we’ve got the perfect recipe for a fall right off the bandwagon.
When the holidays end and everyone has gone back to their routine, we end up feeling tired, sluggish, and irritable accompanied by a few extra pounds around the waist. This leads to intense January detoxing, restrictive diets and goal setting which are unattainable and can lead to a negative self-image and a lot of guilt.
This year let’s STOP this cycle. Of course, it is okay unwind with a few glasses of wine and to enjoy delicious home-cooked Christmas desserts with family and friends; but this Christmas I encourage you to be more mindful of what you are putting into your body as well as what you are expecting of yourself come January.
The following is a guide to help you avoid some unhealthy holiday situations.
When attending a Christmas dinner, offer to bring a dish rather than a dessert or drinks. If you know you are in control of a portion of the meal, you can make it semi healthy and get in some greens and proteins. Don’t restrict your options to traditional ‘Christmas foods’ try some winter soups, roasted veggies or festive salads. When eating, pick your own portions. You may not always be in control of this if being served, but when possible make up your own plate and don’t compare it to others. Many people binge over holidays, this is what causes the bloated and fatigued feeling post-meal. Don’t fall into the trap. Just enjoy the food you really want (don’t just put it on your plate because it’s there) and stop eating when full.
If you know you are going to a Christmas party where there are going to be limited healthy options, eat before. Have a small meal at home high in protein which can help curb those cravings. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the food at the party but you may end up eating 2 shortbread cookies instead of 8. When at a party stay away from the food table. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to constantly restrict your cravings, we only have so much self-control!
Pack a good lunch for work. Around the holidays there seems to always be treats that people bring in to share. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are starving at 3pm staring at a plate of gingerbread cookies that Susan from the office brought in.
Hydrate (with water not eggnog). Often, we eat when we are just thirsty. Make sure you are drinking enough water, this will help with your sugar cravings as well.
Move. I know it seems there is no time during the holidays to cut out enough time to go to the gym but exercising makes us more productive. When we exercise, our brains are more efficient at planning and decision making which are both important, especially around the holidays. Even if you don’t have time to go to the gym, do something active for 20 mins each day.
Don’t starve yourself. Unless you are doing an intentional fast, don’t restrict your meals on the day of a big dinner to save room. You will end up bingeing on unhealthy foods rather than having a balanced diet throughout the day with a few indulgences.
It’s all about balance. The holidays are a time to celebrate with loved ones, don’t spend it bingeing then feeling guilty. When you chose to indulge- enjoy it! If you had delicious dessert one night, start your next day with a nice healthy breakfast, don’t let your thoughts linger on your unhealthy decisions. Look at the holiday as a whole. Not taking a second piece of pie or saying no to cookies you didn’t need at the office adds up. Make healthy options available to yourself and be prepared.
And remember to breath. Happy Holidays Everyone!
Yours in Health,