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FitTip (December 2015)
by Erin Calderone
FIT TIP #8: Healthy Holidays
I have to admit: my favorite part of the holidays is the food. I think many of you would agree that it’s a shame that we have to wait all year to eat certain dishes. I mean, wouldn’t pumpkin pie or honey ham taste just as delicious in March as they do in December? But it’s probably better that I only make chocolate-covered peanut butter bon-bons once a year…
For many of us, this season can be emotionally draining. (I don’t mean having to deal with aggravating in-laws, that’s way outside my area. And if anyone has tips for that I’m all ears!) But for those who have weight-loss or fitness goals, the holidays are a trying time for will power and guilt-management. On the one hand, even the most stalwart dieter will have trouble passing up their favorite type of Christmas cookie. But no one wants to wake up on January 1st and have to add another 10-15lbs to their new year’s resolutions. Pile that on top of all of the other stress this time of year brings and you have a recipe for a Frosty-level meltdown. So below I’ve compiled a few suggestions –with help from my colleagues - to keep your holidays healthy and (barring those unwelcome comments from your nosy aunt) relatively guilt-free!
- Choose wisely. Maybe you look forward all year to turkey and stuffing but egg-nog isn’t really your thing. Don’t spend (or overspend) your calorie budget on food you don’t like! Do treat yourself to your favorite foods – in healthy portions – and skip on those that you don’t crave. Another tip here – don’t drink all of your calories. Pure alcohol contains 7 calories per gram – and a standard drink has 0.6oz of alcohol or 14 grams. That’s not even counting the calories from carbohydrates and sugars in flavorings, milk, juice or syrups that are often added to holiday drinks.
- Spread the joy. This includes sharing! Don’t keep those extra cookies to yourself, bring them to work or church or even give them out to hungry students! And by the way, if you don’t get rid of them all, you are not required to eat them. It’s ok to throw the leftovers out.
- Maintain. Keep your regular healthy diet and exercise program during the days that you don’t have special parties or gatherings. In fact, this might be the best time to add more fiber-dense fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and lean proteins to your everyday diet. No need to overdo it at the gym, but maintaining your fitness routine can help you de-stress and feel better about yourself overall.
- Pre-game it. No, I don’t mean like you did in college. Eating a small balanced meal before you go to a feasting party can help you not over-indulge. Traditional logic says that we should “save-up” our calories and starve ourselves in preparation for a big meal but this just means we’re more likely to overeat foods that are calorie-dense and nutrient-lacking.
- Keep Calm and… relax! A lot of emotional eating is due to stress. So find even a few minutes every day to get away from the commercialized holiday madness and be kind to yourself. Reducing stress can also normalize crazy hormone levels that cause weight gain. Just 15 minutes of meditation, prayer, stretching or even napping (imagine that) can work wonders on your internal stress level.
- Forgive. Yourself. If you do end up having one too many pieces of peppermint bark (better make that five too many), don’t beat yourself up about it. Nobody’s perfect, (and if they are, they probably aren’t any fun to be around). Let it go and carry on with your normal healthy habits. Aim for 80-90% consistency in food and fitness and you’ll keep up your healthy lifestyle right into the new year.
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