By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
It’s hard to believe that it’s just about holiday time again…but guess what, it is! As the year comes to a close, and here come the holidays and everything else that accompanies them — like holiday parties and treats!
Holiday season can be an anxious time for many reasons: the commotion of gatherings, presents to be purchased and given, and for many, the prospect of falling of their healthy eating and exercise routine due to a hectic holiday schedule (coupled with the temptation of the treats served at holiday parties). Like other stressful times of the year though, with a little forethought and guidance the holiday season can be one that even you too can enjoy — even if it’s generally a time that stresses you out.
Here’s a few of my favorite go-to tips to help you stay in control and feel great during the holiday season. After all, food should be a part of the holidays but not the major focus. Let’s make it work for you this holiday season instead of stressing you out!
1. Stick to a schedule: Don’t let the prospect of the holiday party or feast knock the rest of your day out of whack. I find that often my clients will drastically cut back on their eating to anticipate eating at holiday gatherings and in turn will end up going hours without eating, ending in a terrible mess of hunger and poor mood. Don’t do this to yourself. Stick to your plan of 3 meals and 1-2 snacks daily. Plan to incorporate whatever party or meal you’re headed towards as part of your day — don’t give it any special credit! It’ll help you eat less and stay on track.
2. Make smart choices: The reality (most of the time) is that we can’t indulge in all the holiday good-ness and still maintain our healthy weight or general feeling of energy and health. That doesn’t meant though that you cannot enjoy some of it. You just have to make choices. Making choices is something that I teach all of my clients during any time of the year. Think about the one item you REALLY want to indulge in (whether it be a festive cocktail, dessert or other item) and choose to make good choices otherwise.
3. Drink plenty of water: Holidays can be filled with lots of temptation and lots of salt, too — and both things can promote indulgence. Did you know though that some of the time you feel like you’re craving certain foods it may actually be due to thirst (or overconsumption of salty foods) instead of hunger? Help yourself make better food decisions as well as promote healthy digestion, and feel energized by aiming to get 2-3 liters of water daily (64-96 oz.).
4. Keep exercise in your routine: Yes, sure, holidays are busy, but we’re never really too busy to fit in a workout — even if it’s only 15-20 minutes long. Something is better than nothing, and I promise it’s benefits go much deeper than calorie burning. Exercise prompts the brain to make “feel good” chemicals that can help to make us happy and feel de-stressed. So keep on moving! Here’s a few of my favorite workouts for you to try:
5. Keep drinking your juices, making your smoothies and eating your veggies: Veggies in whatever form you can get them in can help to promote de-bloating and also promote healthy digestion during a time when the holiday food may be making you feel a little backed up. Try to include three great sources of vegetables daily — that could be a salad, a juice and a smoothie, or two salads and a juice (cooked vegetables count too!).