Photo source: shiftnutrition.ca
The Holidays have arrived. For most people, this is a time of joy and meals with family and friends. Richer foods, sweeter foods, more food, drinks… But for people that are on a weight loss journey and that worked hard all year to lose the extra weight and get back in shape, this time of year can represent a huge stress to them. The temptations everywhere and the social pressure from others to “just eat a little desert” or “just have another beer” can be enough to make this time of year extremely difficult for many. To the point that a lot of people just want this time to be over with to get back to their healthy routine.
I understand you if you feel that way as the Holidays are approaching, but it’s not necessary to put ourselves through so much stress. So here are my healthy tips to stay the course during the Holidays!
1. Prepare yourself mentally for the parties
You know in advance where you will be going, in general the menu and who will be present, so you know in advance the temptations and the social pressures you will probably face. Decide before leaving what you will eat in terms of food and drinks and decide in advance what you will say to the people that will put pressure on you. In the temptation moments, stay firm with yourself and others, talk to yourself. The choice is YOURS, not the others. It’s not them that worked hard all year, the decision on what you will and will not eat and drink is entirely up to you. Talk to yourself, ask yourself if you truly want to eat whatever food. If the answer is yes, then go for it, but take responsibility for your choices. No being hard on ourselves come January.
2. Relax, give yourself permission to go off plan
You worked hard all year, but it’s not a few off plan meals, controlled nonetheless, that will ruin everything. The Holidays are part of life; we have to learn to manage them. 3-4 bigger meals than what you usually eat will not ruin a whole year of healthy eating. Yes, you might gain a few pounds, but it’s not that dramatic because if during the year you’ve made lifestyle changes that are permanent, those changes will continue in January and the weight will come off again.
Have a taste of everything, in small portions, or if you have a favorite dish, take a reasonable portion of that dish and less of the others. Avoid taking normal portions of everything, you will end up eating too much.
You enjoy having a glass of wine or a nice beer, go ahead, but don’t drink the bottle or the case of beer. Again, it’s all in the portions.
Drink a lot of water, you will avoid eating and drinking too much. You will also minimize the amount of weight gain due to water retention. Alcohol, salty foods, sweet foods and fatty foods all cause water retention. A 5-6 lbs of water retention can be very typical.
6. Stay active
Do not neglect working out and moving. An intense workout in the morning when you know the same night you’ll be having a big meal, or a walk after a big meal. Whatever you chose it doesn’t matter, as long as you keep moving!
There are usually always raw veggies, cooked veggies and salads. Fill your plate of these and then take smaller portions of richer foods. And if you know that where you are going there is going to be none or few of those options, bring some to the hostess. Eating larger volumes of veggies will help yo be less hungry for the richer foods.
There are also always fruits. Always take some fruits with a small piece of your favorite desert instead of eating a huge portion of desert.
9. Plan your days
The days you know you will be going to a reception, plan the rest of your meals for the day to be light, knowing at night you will eat more. Workout a little longer that day, or increase the intensity of your workout. And the days you have no receptions, eat lightly to let your body recuperate from the big nights.
10. Do not weigh yourself
The worse thing you can do is to weigh yourself everyday, especially the next morning following a big meal with drinks. The water retention will be very high; you will only be discouraged for nothing. So from December 23 to January 4th, we hide the scale!
11. Talk to yourself in a positive way
Congratulate yourself for all your effort during the year, enjoy this time with family and friends, tell yourself it’s alright to eat “off plan” during the Holidays, while controlling portions of course. And if you gain a few pounds, most of them will be due to water retention and will go away pretty fast and what’s left, you will lose again because you now have a permanent healthy lifestyle (right?). You will not be gong back to your old bad habits come January. The Holidays are only a few days, relax, smile, love life!
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
If you have tips of your own, share them with me! I always love talking health!