Hi everyone! I want to introduce you to Shelly Stinson, a reader of The Healthy Advocate and a true believer in the power of food and nutrition. She has some great tips to share for this holiday season! – Brandon
Although holidays are supposed to be filled with joy and cheer, the two emotions that they are more likely to conjure up if you’re trying to watch your weight is fear and despair. Between high-fat traditional dishes and homemade, sugar-laden desserts, your waistline doesn’t stand a chance. Or does it?
Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays
There’s no denying that surviving the holidays with your waistline intact is more difficult this time of year, but that doesn’t exactly make it impossible. And it won’t be if you follow these four very important tips:
Change Your Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
One of the worst things you can do when it comes to watching what you eat over the holidays is to tell yourself that you have no control over your food intake. This generally sounds something like, “I would like to keep my weight down during the holidays, but I just can’t resist Aunt Molly’s homemade pie” or “I know I shouldn’t eat as much as I do at Christmas, but I can’t help it. I’m simply too weak!”
Making statements like these will automatically set you up to overeat because you’ve already given yourself an out. Plus, as reported by Psychology Today, “Self-fulfilling prophecies are quite common: You start believing your own propaganda and bring about what you fear.” To change what you say to yourself so your self-fulfilling prophecy is more positive, some statements to consider include:
- I may struggle over the holidays, but I am stronger than the food placed before me, so I will prevail!
- I am in control of my food intake and will act as such by eating manageable portions and choosing primarily healthy foods.
- I am much more important than any high-calorie food or dessert could ever be, so I will do what it takes to succeed!
Give Yourself Permission to Eat Your Favorite Holiday Sweets
If you walk into the holidays telling yourself that you won’t eat any of your favorite holiday sweets, you’re greatly increasing the odds that you’ll wind up binging on the very foods you’ve sworn to avoid. It’s similar to telling a child that they can’t play with a certain toy. Even if they didn’t really want it before, it now becomes the object of their desire and nothing else seems to matter as they won’t stop until it is theirs.
Instead of letting this happen to you, give yourself permission to eat your favorite sweets in moderation and you’ll bypass this effect completely. Dr. Clyde Wilson also suggests that you eat your sweet treat “right after exercise…to avoid the massive loss of willpower that could come later in the day” if your blood sugar spikes and then crashes. Speaking of exercise…
Increase Your Activity Level
There’s more than one way to lose weight. If you know you’re going to be eating more calories over the holidays (which you likely will), then increasing your activity intake is another efficient way to watch your waistline. The key to success with this tip is to follow an exercise schedule that works best for you.
As College News says, “There is absolutely no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise,” so you need to come up with a routine that you can follow no matter how busy the holidays become. Just as students must do this to hopefully bypass the freshman 15, you can bypass the typical holiday 5 or 10 (or more if you’re not careful) by following the same approach.
Some things to consider are which time of day works best for your schedule, which exercises you enjoy enough to do regularly, and where you intend to work out. You may also want to enlist a buddy so you’re more inclined to keep your exercise “appointment.”
Mind Your Drinks
Not only can you overeat during the holidays, but you can also add many unnecessary calories to your diet by way of beverages. With fruit punches, eggnog, and an unlimited supply of soda and alcohol, it is extremely easy to consume way more than you should (and typically do) through liquids.
To help overcome this common holiday pitfall, stay hydrated by drinking water a majority of the time. And if you do want to drink something a little more pleasing to your taste buds, alternate between that drink and water so that you’re cutting your beverage calories in half. You can also swap some of your favorite alcohol-based drinks for lower calorie options to reduce your calorie intake that way.
Dropping weight or maintaining a loss isn’t always easy over the holidays, but it IS possible, especially if you follow these four tips. Now…just say, “I can do this!” and you’ll be well on your way!
About Shelly Stinson
Shelly Stinson is freelance writer based out of Denver, CO. Her interests include healthy living, being active outdoors and trying new restaurants. Find her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/shellystins