It’s that time of year, pumpkin spiced everything, Christmas decorations out before Thanksgiving has even started and a multitude of New Year’s Eve party invites flowing in. Whether we decide to be festive or not, the holiday craze is upon us, and learning how to deal with all of the indulgences, stress, and tasty temptations are a must when trying to survive the holiday season.
Follow these 8 holiday survival tips to help you beat the battle of the bulge without having to say no to all of your favorite traditions, treats, and social outings this holiday season!
- No skipping meals. Always eat normally on the day of a party; don’t try to starve yourself all day so that you can overindulge at your holiday outing. People who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat everything in sight once they get there. Eat as you normally would so you don’t set yourself up for an all-out calorie fest. Have a snack before heading out to help control cravings and extreme swings in energy.
- Help out with the food preparation. Volunteer to take a trip to the grocery store to purchase fresh veggies, lean proteins, and even healthy dessert options. You can be in charge of creating a nice salad or roast some vegetables; if you are at the store helping out with the food selection and preparation you can have a say in what is being served for dinner. Find recipes ahead of time for some of your favorite holiday dishes and figure out a way to make them more waistline friendly.
- Booze smarter: One of the easiest ways to cut out excessive and unnecessary calories is to cut back on alcohol and make smarter beverage choices. Not only does alcohol act as an appetite stimulant, it also causes our blood sugar levels to drop, often leading to mindless snacking and poor food choices during your holiday outing. Save on calories and sugar by choosing red wines and champagnes, while trying to pass on mixed drinks and heavy beers. Better yet, stick to mineral water with a splash of lemon or lime for a hangover free calorie saving option.
- Bring something you would eat. If you are really worried about there not being anything you can eat, then go ahead and make or bring a dish for everyone to try. This will give you a chance to show people you can eat your favorite recipes but with a healthier twist. If you are worried you don’t have the will power to stay strong while everyone in your family gives you a hard time for eating healthy (“one slice won’t kill you….. come on live a little….. it’s just one day”…), then get to working on those domestic skills and cook your own version of whatever you want and let everyone try your delicious and nutritious holiday alternative!
- Be a food snob. If you don’t love it, don’t eat it. Scan the spread for foods you truly treasure and skip the everyday dishes that are available all year long. For example, if you usually eat turkey every day of the week for lunch, then opt out of the humdrum option and hold out for your grandma’s famous lasagna. Don’t feel like you have to eat something just because it is there; if you hate green beans, then don’t feel pressure to eat the calorie laden green been casserole just because everyone is raving about it. Indulge wisely and determine which holiday foods are your favorites and which holiday eats aren’t as appealing to your palate. Choose the foods that you have been salivating about for the past few months while you were crushing your summer body workouts.
- Use the food to fuel your workouts! Get in a killer workout the morning of a holiday feast and the following day use the surplus of calories to do some HIIT training and set a few new personal bests in the gym. Use the extra calories to go a bit heavier than you normally would in the gym; switch up your cardio routine (try really putting the incline all the way up and sprint ). Make a fitness date and scout a workout buddy for the day after a major holiday to keep you committed to burning off those extra calories! Make the most of out of your indulgences this holiday season!
- Mange your stress: It is easy to get frustrated during the holiday season; long store lines, lack of close parking spots, and the pressure to find the perfect gift, but managing your stress levels is imperative to not only your sanity, but also your general well-being. The health implications of poor stress management can be significant if not properly addressed. The effects of stress contribute to the development and creation of imbalances throughout the body in regards to our stress hormone cortisol, as well as our energy levels and immune system health. Increased cortisol levels caused by prolonged stress can lead to weight gain and overeating, jumpstarting the holiday stress eating pattern. Stress also negatively affects the blood cells that help your body fight off antigens during the cold and flu months. Be sure to make time to unwind with a warm cup of tea, an evening stroll or even just a good night’s sleep!
- Have balance.Don’t pig out, yet don’t deprive yourself. Adjust your gym schedule to make time for social affairs and figure out how to not let the holiday stress get the best of you. Think about your big picture goals and allow yourself to enjoy making memories with your friends and family. With the holidays comes holiday favorites (egg nog, pumpkin pie, lasagna, sugar cookies….you get the picture), so it’s imperative that you learn how to develop a healthy relationship with both your food and your behavior around food during the holidays. Keep your fridge stocked with your normal food choices, continue to hit the gym but also say yes to taking time to enjoy life!