Moderation and Balance for a Smart Holiday Season
Does it seem like the holidays always just sneak up on you? Let’s face it, this year is probably the fastest any of us started celebrating the season because we ALL could use some extra JOY! It is true that THIS year, the holidays will likely look different than in years past. Something that doesn’t change for us, however, is the holidays can wreak havoc on our healthful habits. From a busy schedule to family and work demands, stress, or financial pressures, not to mention all the holiday foods, there are many obstacles that throw us out of routine or make us ditch our smart lifestyle. Instead of starting the next year feeling “not yourself,” set some goals ahead of time and be realistic with yourself. The key is planning for moderation and balance.
These tips can help you stay on track, even during the holidays:
- Set realistic goals. The holidays are not the time to make drastic lifestyle changes. Big weight loss goals during the holidays may be self-defeating. Instead, strive to maintain your weight. Eat small light meals during the day so you can enjoy special foods later and keep your calorie budget in check.
- Be creative. Use the holidays to help you be active in different ways. Take a walk to view holiday decorations. Walk a few laps around the store before shopping. Do stretching exercises while watching your favorite holiday movie. Encourage active recreation with your family.
- Do something different to celebrate the season. Connect with family and friends through a virtual party. Make cards to send to loved ones or those in assisted living centers. Make care packages to donate to a homeless or crisis center. Connecting with and helping others elevates mood and reduces stress!
- Plan to make over some of your holiday foods by substituting ingredients that have fewer calories, less sugar or less fat. Make small changes and you and your family likely won’t notice the difference.
- Focus on the now. Don’t put off making healthful choices. If you say to yourself “I’ll start… on Monday, after Thanksgiving, at New Year’s,” you are falling into the “diet trap.” A smart lifestyle is not something that you go on and off. The goal is to include smart nutrition and physical activity in your daily life, taking one day at a time. RIGHT NOW is the best time to take care of your health.
- Eat a balanced meal before starting your holiday preparations (shopping, decorating, etc.), and bring along your own nutritious snacks such as an apple, single-serving nuts, a protein bar, or another option to help you avoid extra holiday treats.
- Get real and ditch the all-or-nothing mindset. Depriving yourself of special holiday foods, or feeling guilty when you do enjoy them, is not a helpful strategy. An occasional splurge doesn’t mean you’ve destroyed the healthful food habits you’re striving to nurture. Use the 80/20 rule: Make balanced choices 80% of the time, then the 20% you don’t, will not make a big difference. Expecting perfection will only set you up for feeling disappointed.
- Keep track of your food and beverage choices. This is the most helpful way for you to know if you are staying within your goals and how and when you need to make changes to stay on track.
- Plan to limit alcohol and cocktails since these are a source of a lot of calories and very little and can be easily underestimated. In addition, alcohol can increase your appetite and throw you off your eating plan. Try alternating or substituting alcoholic beverages for sparkling water with a twist of citrus.
- Take the edge off your hunger before a holiday meal. Feeling overly hungry can break even the best goals. Eat a small balanced snack to help control meal portions.
- Going to be a guest for a socially distanced or virtual holiday celebration? Choose a few foods to splurge on and make the rest low calorie. Keep portions small. Often just a taste will satisfy a craving or curiosity.
- Eat mindfully and slowly. Savor each bite and take the time to taste the food, considering what you truly like about it. This will allow you to get more enjoyment from smaller portions.
- Avoid extra snacking, bites and tastes. Position yourself out of reach of the kitchen or food so it is an effort to get something else to eat. Tune into and practice eating only when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full.
- Have smart choices on hand. Purchase pre-cut raw vegetables and/or fresh fruit to save time and pair them with a yogurt or cottage cheese dip. This way you know there is a balanced choice available for you to eat!
- Be flexible with your exercise schedule. The season can disrupt most everyone’s daily routine. Remember that results depend on consistency over a long period of time. Missing a few workouts during the holiday season will not ruin your efforts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Doing something is better than nothing.
- Limit sedentary activities and go out of your way to move. Instead of circling a parking lot for the spot close to the door, park further away to get in some extra steps. Set a reminder to get up every hour or on the even hour to do a few minutes of movement such as walking laps in or outside of your house, dancing to your favorite music, push-ups or squats, or yoga. If you shop online, take the time you saved and do some exercise through an app or online channel. Every body movement burns calories and exercise is a great way to relieve stress.
- Get support. Enlist the help of a family member or friend to help you keep on track. This person can just help encourage and support your goals this holiday season or you can join together as accountability partners throughout the holidays.
Plan ahead and be prepared…to ENJOY this unique holiday season. Happy Holidays!