Friends, the Hoildays are almost upon us. I’ve been drooling over many holiday recipes the past few weeks, particularly ones from Bon Appetit and Southern Living, and let me tell you: I.AM.EXCITED!!!! My Pinterest pages are exploding with with ideas for decorating, gifts, and most importantly, FOOD. Here are a few of my favorite pins:
Food is most definitely my expression of love for my family and friends, and I can’t wait to spoil them with delicious and healthy treats. However, for some of us, a slight sense of dread comes over us as the holidays approach. It usually says things to us like “how am I going to enjoy my favorite foods this holiday and not gain a ton of weight???”
Perhaps you’ve given a thought (or two) to how you are going to get through the holidays and enjoy your favorite treats without gaining a significant amount of weight. Truth be told, studies show that the average American gains only 1-2 pounds over the holiday season. And while that may not seem like a big deal, those few pounds can be hard to lose and can add up over the years. This often leads to chronic disease and being overweight later in life. But is it possible to be healthy during this time of year and still enjoy your favorite holiday treats? The answer is YES! Read on for strategies to help you make a plan for your healthiest holiday yet.
Believe it or not, you will be less likely to gain unwanted pounds during the holidays from making a few simple changes at home. While you may be tempted to splurge at holiday dinners and parties, keeping what you eat in check when you are at home will allow for a few indulgences when you are out. Plan- ahead for these higher-calorie meals by eating consistent lighter meals that focus on fruits, vegetables, and lean protein sources at home. And be sure not to skip meals! By keeping your body full and satisfied with high-fiber fruits and vegetables and boosting your metabolism with small meals or snacks through the day, you will be much less likely to overindulge when you are out for a holiday event.
The office can often be the hardest place to keep calories in check during the holidays, often because of the endless supply of holiday goodies brought in by coworkers and clientele. Little treats and delicacies may seem to lie around every corner, but not to fear! Set yourself up for success by keeping office goodies stashed in one place, and consider a place that’s less-frequented than the breakroom. By keeping treats out of sight, you will be less likely to mindlessly eat throughout the day. If you do get a case of munchies, be sure to keep healthy, filling snacks at your desk. Try pre-portioned packages of roasted unsalted nuts, one-ounce portions of dark chocolate, pieces of fruit like apples, pears, and tangerines, or veggie sticks with hummus dip.
Parties and family gatherings for holiday meals are often the most highly-anticipated time of the season, and there is never a shortage of festive beautiful foods at these events. Holiday parties will always have at least one or more of your favorite dishes that you look forward to each year. It’s alright if you want to indulge a little and enjoy them! Plan ahead for parties by eating a small, healthy snack before you go. This will keep you from over-filling your plate at parties or going back for seconds. If you are able, bring along your own contribution to the party spread by providing something colorful and healthy. Consider a bright veggie crudité tray with guacamole or hummus, colorful skewers with vibrant pieces of holiday fruit, or a beautiful marinated vegetable salad. This will ensure that you have a healthy option to fill up on, while leaving room for some bite-sized indulgences!
Example of a colorful holiday table filled with healthful vegetables and fruits:
Throughout the Season:
Don’t forget the importance of your workout routine! A good goal during the holidays is to shift focus from weight-loss to weight-maintenance, and the best way to maintain your weight during this time of year is to exercise. A short but consistent workout routine will help relieve holiday stress, regulate your appetite, and burn extra calories you may consume. It doesn’t have to involve hours in the gym – often 20-30 minutes of high-intensity cardio exercise combined with endurance-focused weight-bearing exercise can be just the thing needed to keep weight in-check. Do this 3-4 times per week and you will be off to a great start!
For extra calorie-burning, consider little lifestyle changes like parking in the back of shopping mall lots to get extra walking in, or making a commitment to take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. At work, consider devoting 10 minutes of your lunch break to walking up and down stairs, lifting light weights at your desk, or going for a walk with a coworker. All of these small changes can quickly lead to big results!
Here’s to looking forward to a HAPPY and HEALTHY holiday season!