Beat the Holiday Bulge!
The holidays are a time for family gatherings, gift giving, story-telling and unfortunately over-eating, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and weight gain. For weeks and months after the Christmas holidays, we blame our expanding waistlines on carrying around extra ‘holiday weight’. It is easy to pack on the weight over Christmas because we tend to consume more calories than normal due to all the available treats (who can turn down a snowball?) and home-cooked meals that seem big enough to feed a small army. And before you know it, bikini season will be upon on us and we will still be blaming those extra ten pounds on holiday weight. So why not try to avoid this yearly pattern from happening? Here are some helpful tips to try and prevent the Holiday Bulge.
1. Set Realistic Expectations
Chances are, your family and friends are only reunited a few times throughout the year, one of them being during Christmas. There is always somebody who lives in a different province or works in a different city so family get-togethers only happen a few times a year (if that). If you are anything like me, the instant that my flight is booked home for the Christmas holidays, a countdown begins (right now I am at 18 days). So when I finally am reunited with my family, I am tempted to throw my diet completely out the window. This is not a viable option since I definitely do not want to gain 10 pounds in the 10 days I am home, so I make a compromise to spoil myself but limit certain things. For instance, try to avoid the statement, “I will NOT eat junk food over the holidays”. It is OK to indulge. Instead, say, “I will not eat chips or drink soft drinks at social gatherings”. Don’t be too hard on yourself; Christmas does only happen once a year.
2. Moderation, Moderation, Moderation
It is easy to get carried away with all the party food, endless cookie platters, bountiful alcoholic beverages and the larger than life meals at family gatherings. But before you indulge, try and think about how you are going to feel the next day. Before you help devour an enormous cheese and cracker platter, try and think: do I want to feel bloated, guilty and dehydrated tomorrow? Also, try limiting the portion sizes of the treats you decide to eat, cut a smaller piece of fruit cake for yourself or try eating one cookie instead of a handful. This way you get to enjoy your guilty pleasures while not over-eating.
3. Taper your Meals
If you know you are heading to a family gathering on the 27th of December and a feast is in the horizon, try and reduce your treats the day before and be mindful of your food choices – make them as healthy as possible!
4. Fill up Before you Head Out
Before you head out, eat something light and healthy but filling such as a leftover turkey or ham sandwich or some fruit and cottage cheese. Also, try to have a glass of water before you head out the door. These tactics will take the edge off your hunger and can prevent you from overeating while you are out.
5. Don’t Forget to Exercise
If you feel as though you are overeating, try and burn off those extra calories through some good, old-fashioned, physical activity. It is usually difficult to try and find the time (and the gumption) to get to the gym on a good day, so it is even more difficult when you are busy with the Christmas holidays. Try getting up a little earlier in the morning and go then, even a bout of exercise for 30 minutes is better than nothing!
There are a few general guidelines you can use on a day-to-day basis that can help you keep yourself healthy, rested and sane over the holidays. When it is your turn to entertain guests, choose to provide healthy snacks and meals. It is important to try and get a good night’s sleep every night. Without enough sleep, you will begin to feel the stress of the holidays even more. Be mentally prepared to say ‘no’ at social gatherings when food and refreshments are offered. Also, be conscious of how much alcohol you are consuming. Alcohol is only second to fat for high caloric content and not only is it high in fat but it stimulates your appetite and jeopardizes your will-power. Last but not least, in midst of your busy Christmas visiting, gift wrapping and cooking schedule, take time out for yourself. Take a half an hour and enjoy a cup of coffee with your favourite TV-show or unwind at the end of the day with a bath. It will help you keep your sanity.
Christmas is the ideal time for catching up with family and friends and spending quality time with the ones you love. Make the best of this short holiday by following these few tips!