The snow has fallen here where I live and we are full into holiday season. I admit I am a sucker for Christmas. I feel like a kid again during the holidays. Christmas lights and department store decorations give me butterflies in the stomach. Bring on the decorations, parties, Christmas movies and yes you’ll find me singing along to Christmas music (sorry not sorry eek). It’s also an excuse to wear more glitter both in my outfits and in my makeup looks, so be looking out for that!
Christmas involves a lot of family time, eating, socializing, and can get stressful at times too – the holidays definitely bring on different feelings for every one of us. Honestly I could go on and on about Christmas and holidays, but this post’s focus is going to be about surviving the holidays without making yourself feel like crap and ruining your healthy lifestyle goals, but still allowing yourself to have a little fun without the guilt.
Maintaining your weight during the holidays with parties and extra foods and bevvies, can be a difficult task in itself so if trying to lose weight isn’t possible for you, shift your focus to avoiding the holiday weight gain and not interfering with your overall healthy lifestyle.
Tips for Healthy Holidays:
Drink plenty of water, not too much alcohol. There are a lot of high calorie beverages involved with the holiday season and Christmas parties, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Cut down the amount of alcohol by drinking water in between each alcoholic beverage, and choose lower calorie non-alcoholic choices like sparkling water or kombucha (the grape one kinda tastes like wine!).
I don’t like eggnog but I do like Bailey’s and Kahlua so I’m not perfect. Each of these have added sugars and aren’t cheap on calories:
Regular eggnog: 1 cup has about a whopping 310 calories and is high in fat and sugar
*even the Soy “eggnog” isn’t the healthiest option having 28 grams (about 7 teaspoons of sugar in 1 cup)
Baileys Irish Cream – 2 oz will give you an extra 193 extra calories, with almost 8 grams of fat and 12 grams of sugar (have they come up with a calorie free baileys yet…)
Kahlua – 2 oz has about 179 calories and 29 grams of sugar
When it comes to your alcoholic drinks, try to have less of the flavoured liquors and opt for a spirit with low sugar mixes (i.e. vodka soda with lime), choose ones that you can sip and enjoy at a slow pace. Not only do you get extra calories from the alcohol, but it also clouds your judgement and your food choices often suffer as well…admittedly it is the culprit to me eating french fries in the middle of the night…
Fill up on raw veggies. At our holiday get togethers or family dinners we always have a tray of fresh raw veggies, hummus and salsa alongside the less healthier options. Instead of noshing down on the higher fat, sodium and sugar snacks, stick to more of the veggies and healthier dips to fill you up. I often end up eating plenty of raw veggies during cocktail hour that I end up having little room for a large meal – I call this my “veggie baby.” The fibre in the veggies keep you full long for little calories!
1 oz Dry Roasted Peanuts have about 160 calories and leave you wanting more (have you ever measured out your nuts??). Whereas 2 Tbsps of hummus runs 50-70 calories with 1 cup carrots providing about 52 calories, you save on calories but get more volume to satisfy your hunger.
Don’t Skip Meals. Avoid skipping your lunch (or other meals) or holding back so you can feast for the holiday supper. I’ve had this mindset in the past too – if I have little or nothing to eat for lunch, then I can eat more for supper and not feel as guilty right?! However, often what plays out is that you end up eating more because by the time supper comes you are hungry. Also, the mindset of I can eat whatever because I skipped lunch, leads to an excuse to eat more desserts and snacks than usual, which then leads to higher intake of sugar and salt. Tummy ache central!
Try to eat as close to your norm as you can. Eating frequent smaller portions (small meals with a healthy snack in between) can help avoid over eating and ward of bloating after a large meal.
Be active! I know holiday times are busy for many of us, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to put off exercise. Exercise will help you digest and work off the extra foods and bevvies you may consume as well as help manage stress during the holiday season!
If you are busy with parties or Christmas shopping after work, sign up for a class and get your workout in before work. You may need to schedule in your workouts or plan to go with a friend to keep you accountable. Had a bigger than usual supper? Bundle up and take the family and/or dog for a walk (I like to go and admire the Christmas lights). You may like to take advantage of winter activities as well like skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing. On Christmas Eve, our family goes skating
Decrease Salty Foods. When we think about foods that tempt us over the holidays, often what comes to minds are cookies, baking and boxes of chocolates. Yes these are always in abundance but so are high fat, salty foods that we should also try to keep at a minimum. Excess salt in foods can retain water and lead to more bloating. Step away from those pretzels, peanuts, crackers and decrease your ham and sausages. Don’t forget water to help your body rid the excess sodium.
Stand or Sit Away from The Food Table. Have you ever noticed while sitting beside the snacks you tend to eat them even if you aren’t hungry? If it is right there tempting us, we are more likely to eat them and our portions thoughtlessly increase. Avoid the mindless snacking by grabbing a small plate or napkin and grabbing a small assortment of snacks that you have mindfully decided that you would like to eat and then walk away and go socialize. Even if I’m standing in-front of a tray of vegetables, I will just keep eating and eating them until my stomach is uncomfortably bloated…. walk away!
Get in proper sleep. Just like your exercise, don’t forgo your healthy beauty sleep during the hustle bustle of the holidays. It is a lot easier to make all the healthier options that I talked about above, when you are feeling well and energized. Inadequate sleep can also increase stress hormones in our bodies called cortisol that, in excess, can increase fat accumulation.
Last few ideas:
- Serve healthy beauty fruits for a refreshing alternative to desserts
- Try out some healthy holiday baking substitutes (ex. unsweetend applesauce in muffins or loafs)
- Play games (I love balderdash and crib)
- Give healthy gifts instead of boxes of chocolates (ex. healthy cookbook, stylish coasters, tickets to a show)
- Volunteer! There are always people and animals in need
Wishing you a healthy happy holiday!