Surviving the Holidays Part 3: Tips to Maintain Your Health and Avoid Extra Holiday Pounds

With the copious amounts of delicious homemade treats that grace our tables this time of year, it can be very difficult to control ourselves and avoid putting on those extra holiday pounds. We’ve all been there; it’s hard to refuse that second helping of stuffing, or apple pie, but we certainly do regret it when we struggle to fit into our New Years outfits. Putting on weight over a short period of time however, is not only unfavorable for our physical appearance, but for our physical health as well. This post will offer you tips to make sure you can enjoy your scrumptious holiday feasts without negatively affecting your waistline or health. Don’t worry, we’re not about to throw spelt and quinoa at you; we’ll save that for your New Years Resolutions. Ha ha!

1) Don’t Arrive on an Empty Stomach

Arriving at a holiday party or meal having consumed nothing but a glass of water all day, is a recipe for overeating and stomach aching. If you arrive starving, you’ll want nothing more than to dive head first into the buffet and eat everything in sight, without even thinking about it. This will both cause you to overeat and prevent you from enjoying the food you are eating. As well, if you haven’t eaten all day and partake in a feast, your stomach will likely have shrunken and although you may believe this ensures one eats less, it actually does not, and only results in much discomfort after the meal. Our Naturopath and weight loss specialist, Sue-Anne Hickey, recommends eating a normal sized preferably healthy breakfast and lunch before indulging later in the evening. This will both allow you to enjoy your meal and avoid the discomfort and displeasing digestive aftermath associated with stretching an empty stomach.

2) Incorporate Healthy Snacks

During the holidays, we are bound to indulge in more decadent caloric foods rich in sodium and sugars. While we are generally advised to limit our intake of such foods, the holidays are in fact meant for enjoying. Our recommendation is to incorporate some healthy snacks such as raw vegetables, nuts and fruit into your daily holiday diets, to compliment the not so healthy treats you will likely be enjoying over the course of the month. This is to insure we still get all of our vitamines and minerals in order to maintain our health and energy. If you take daily vitamins, it is of course also a good idea to continue taking them regularly as well as make efforts to maintain any other healthy living regime you are currently following. It’s okay to have those cookies, but don’t forget the kale.

3) Portion Control

This strange thing happens to us over the holidays where we insist that regular portions are inappropriate. Given the larger than usual amounts of food that are present at any given dinner, this might make sense; we want to try everything and there is just so much to go around that we end up overloading our plates! Though this could be challenging, try to be mindful of your proportions and maintain portion sizes that are at least somewhat similar to what you are used to consuming on a regular basis. If you want to try everything, as you should, perhaps only take small bites of each lovely desert, or consider sharing with your significant other or a family member. This will increase your enjoyment in several ways, such as avoiding the uncomfortable feeling of having eaten far too much and of course the guilt associated with it. So, keep the portion under wraps, even if it means wrapping up some leftovers for the week.

4) Slow it Down

One very powerful and underrated component of maintaining a healthy weight, is eating slowly and mindfully. Ensuring we properly chew and swallow our food is very important. When we eat too quickly without paying attention, we risk overrating and don’t enjoy our food as much. When we eat slowly and mindfully, we help our digestive system better process what we’ve eaten and can enjoy the experience far more as well. Trying to eat mindfully and slowing it down is perhaps one of the easiest highly effective tips one could apply during the holiday season and any time of year to both avoid weight gain and enrich the enjoyment of any meal.

5) Stay Active

We know the holidays make it difficult to maintain regular exercise regimes and we are not suggesting it isn’t difficult to stay on track. For this reason, we encourage the incorporation of other physical activities that perhaps better fit the theme of your holiday season. Instead of spending the entire evening in with family, perhaps take a nice walk all together, with the pooches and all, build a snowman, have a snowball fight, or enjoy some skating or other winter sports. If this isn’t possible, perhaps take the stairs to make up for the gym time you lost having to work late, attend events, or shop. There are many ways to try and incorporate some physical activity into our holidays, it’s only a matter of finding which one’s best fit our schedules and lifestyles. Be creative, you may discover something new and easy to implement year round!

We wish you the very best of December and much health and happiness this holiday season!

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