By: Marit Harney RD, LDN, CPT
Everyone is aware of the fact that eating and exercise habits tend to decline around the holidays, leaving most of us 2-5 pounds heavier by the time we hit January. Many of us fail to lose all the weight and continue to slowly pack on the pounds year after year. I’m sure you’re also aware of the many reasons WHY this happens to so many people, but maybe you didn’t connect the dots on all the factors that contribute to this unwanted behavior change. Below I have listed some of the most common factors for overeating or binge eating around the Holidays.
- Family drama increases emotional stress
- Over committed schedule increases physical and emotional stress
- Treats are flowing off every table you look at! Willpower is a finite power. The more you call upon it, the weaker you get.
- Social acceptability or feeling obligated to eat or drink certain things. Maybe it’s time to create a new “norm” for yourself. After all, you deserve to be supported by those around you who care.
I have a proposition for you:
Let’s do things a little (and I mean a little, if that’s what’s do-able) different this year to minimize the damage
I’m phrasing it this way, because it’s realistic and cumulative in terms of beneficial effects. Year after year, if you do things just a little better/ different, you can slow or avoid the steady creeping weight. What you won’t be doing is thinking that you will “stick to your healthy diet through the holidays and workout every day.” That’s not going to happen. Let’s get real!
Here are some practical tips to help you navigate positive changes during the holiday season. Take a look and consider doing the ones that seem the easiest this year. This does not mean do all the things on the list! You may also consider which of these changes may have the greatest impact on your habits, and start with that one thing. Once you have identified the thing(s) that you plan to work on, write it/them down. I encourage you to also write your plans in the comments section below this article. This will
Help create a sense of community, support and accountability with others like you!
- Load your plate up with the good stuff like veggies and meat.
- Leave a little room for indulgences that your wouldn’t normally have. Moderation > deprivation.
- Get rid of junky leftovers ASAP
- Either avoid having them by sending them with someone else, or give them away. Honestly, I don’t feel bad about throwing away food that will sabotage me or others. Don’t pawn off your problem foods onto someone else who might be struggling with willpower.
- Consistently eat a solid breakfast
- This will set your mind and metabolism up for success for the day. I suggest a smoothie with a clean protein powder, almond or coconut milk, spinach, berries and ground flax. Eggs and veggies are always a good option as well.
- Sprinkle in exercise and make reasonable goals
- Plan your exercise time for when you actually might have some time (wknds or days off) and get it done first thing in the AM. On the other days, aim to move your body as much or as often as you can. That might mean walking for 15 mins, doing 20-50 jumping jacks, squats, pushups or planks whenever you have a free moment. Exercise does not need to be done all at once. Fit in a little here and a little there, on your busy days.
- Practice yoga for 15 mins per day or do some form of stress management
- Adding this practice into your daily routine can help you cope with stress, leaving you less reliant on treats and alcohol. This WEBSITE provides free multi level and time frame yoga classes that you can do at home! Also check out the Headspace App on your phone for a free 10 day for 10 minutes, guided meditation program.
- Drink lots of water
- Properly hydrating will help regulate your appetite, give you more energy, and keep your metabolism humming along.
- Limit treats on days when you don’t have a party or “eating commitment”
- Save your treats for when it matters at get-togethers.
- Bring a dish
- Bring a healthy (or healthier) option that you and others can enjoy so you aren’t deprived
- Limit your use of willpower when possible
- Evaluate temping situations and decide if avoiding it is possible or reasonable. Save your willpower for when there is no avoiding a situation.
- Play up the non- alcoholic beverages
- Ask for seltzer, a splash of juice (optional) and some lemon or lime in a glass with a straw. No one will know you’re not drinking a mixed drink. At a sit down dinner? Just say alcoholic drinks give you heart burn.
- Choose your treat if you’re having one
- Either one alcoholic drink or one dessert. Choose red wine when possible.
- Recognize your trigger foods and avoid completely
- It will make things easier later, if you make this one decision now.
- Make your goal to eat mindfully, not complete avoidance or deprivation
- Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t meet your expectation 100%
- Learn from your mistakes and move on. Harping on it will not change a thing! Let it go-
So what things will YOU be working on this year? I want to see them written below!