Thanksgiving, Christmas, family gatherings, New Years’… they all mean more parties, more stress, more quality time with loved ones, and ALL the food. During the holidays, we often hang out for hours mindlessly eating and drinking, especially when we are relaxing and taking time off from work. It’s easy to make excuses for not exercising and eating healthy, but just 200 extra calories a day can lead to weight gain over a several week period and few of us shed the extra pounds post-holiday season. Even though gatherings might look a little different this year, the holidays can still keep us from our normal healthy habits and bring in the heavier foods.
Overeating, losing sleep, and falling off of a typical exercise routine can leave us starting the new year desperate for a “quick fix” or diet that ultimately will not give us lasting results or anything we can sustain. With the holidays coming up, let’s approach them confidently and guilt-free, while leaving some room for the foods we love and without losing progress.
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Here are 6 easy ways to stay on track during the holidays and still enjoy those favorite treats.
- Keep healthy, nutrient-dense snacks on hand
Having unprocessed snacks like fruit, veggies, nuts, lean meat like grilled chicken and turkey on hand will help fill you up and give you energy throughout your day. Try preparing it at the beginning of each week to set yourself up for success.
2. Drink smart
Festive cocktails and eggnog can add loads of calories to your holiday meals without you even realizing it. Prioritize hydrating with water first and enjoy 1-2 drinks if you choose.
3. Use a small plate and pause between seconds.
Listen to your body. Are you actually hungry? If you are, have some more. If you’re feeling full, take a break. You’ve probably had enough food. Using a small plate can help you feel satisfied once you’ve finished because it’s easier to feel like you’ve had a full meal.
4. Prioritize sleep and self-care
Neglecting to sleep enough or take care of ourselves can lead to more cravings and seeking food as a source of comfort. Try to get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and take moments to relax and think about what you’re thankful for.
5. Get active!
Grab your coat and gloves and go for a walk after a big meal. This simple addition to your day can help aid digestion and burn some of those extra holiday calories. Having trouble getting motivated? Try a fitness class or ask a friend to be your workout buddy.
6. Save room for your favorites
Staying on track and watching your weight doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself. Survey the options-maybe it’s your mom’s homemade stuffing or your aunt’s chocolate pie. Chew slowly and ENJOY IT! No need to feel guilty!
Harvard Health Blog