The holidays are upon us! Regardless of where you live or your religion, the end of the year is a time of celebration which means a lot of care-free eating! Those who are ludicrous enough to start a new diet plan at the beginning of December are soon met with tempting treats everywhere, big dinner celebrations and goading from relatives to just relax and enjoy! I myself have attempted many times not to end the year on the wrong side of the scale by becoming ultra-disciplined in the month of December. But it doesn't take very long to unwrap my resolve when I find myself surrounded by tins and tins and more tins of cookies, caramel popcorn (chocolate-covered too) and more cake than anyone knows what to do with.
Indeed for most of us, celebration starts with food. Get a new promotion, food! a new baby, food! engagement, food, win the lottery....well I'm sure food is right up there with lots of extra spending. And we have been conditioned that a salad just doesn't make for a celebratory lunch, we need fried foods and lots of it, sugar, pastries, bread, etc. Which is why for many of us, weight loss becomes a resolution in January!
So here we are again in December with opportunity to indulge and overeat. Here are a few tips to avoid or at least reduce the holiday bulge:
Focus on what matters
The holidays can be filled with social events and time spent with loved ones. But for many, the holidays can be very depressing. While it's great to see family and other friends, it can be a reminder of what you have not accomplished. Many find themselves isolated, either because they do not have loved ones around, are estranged from loved ones or find it easier just to be by themselves. This time of the year can also be a reminder of loved ones who are no longer living. And for those of us far away from the equator, the lack of sun can make us just downright sad. Whatever the reason for depression, it becomes even easier to sit behind a TV and just eat. Holiday blues are very difficult to overcome. If you notice yourself slipping into it, become intentional about what you can do to make yourself feel better...not just temporarily. For me, I've noticed that during these blue moments it helps for me to step out of my comfort zone and accept an invitation I would usually decline. I am also intentional about staying in touch with friends and family even if it's by phone. It's also important to focus on all the positive things in my life currently: life, good health, loved ones, etc.
There is no doubt that December is filled with lots of goodies and treats. Plan for these moments by determining what treats you don't need this season. I myself have given up chocolate (yes, again!). Yeah, I tried the whole one piece only thing....it's not working and my tight pants are the proof! I'll also be avoiding caramel popcorn which I so love, not just because of the high sugar content but also because of the root canal I had to endure from cracking blah blah blah.
Eat/ snack before heading to that party
We often run around from house to house, or from store to store looking for the perfect gift. Which means that by the time we get to the first dinner party of the night we are famished! As important as it is to get that gift or get to that party, we must also nourish our bodies properly. Have a snack before heading out. Make sure it's a snack that has a lot of protein and not so much sugar (so no ice cream sandwiches!) This will ensure that "your eyes are not bigger than your stomach" when you see that big platter of extra crispy extra fried anything!
Talk more / Eat slowly
It's quite impolite to talk and eat at the same time. The holidays are a time of socializing and spending time with people we don't often see. It's also a great time to catch up. By talking more, we are more likely to slow down our eating so that we can finish telling that story. By slowing down we tend to eat less because our brains get a chance to tell us that our belly is full.
Every year without fail, the holidays are a time of full-on stress. For some, the idea of facing family is stressful. During my retail days I often encountered customers in the middle of a complete meltdown because they could not get the perfect gift, or had waited until the last minute to find a gift and the store was closing, or my favorite, could not fit into the dress they wanted to wear to the holiday party. The pressures of the holidays span from our perception of our family's opinion about ourselves to realizing how much we have not accomplished by the end of the year. When we are stressed out, we often comfort ourselves with food/drinking and make allowances for overindulging. Find stress-relieving techniques that work for you. I like to journal because I am able to process my thoughts and not get so obsessive. Other techniques include exercising, spending quality time with loved ones, breathing exercises, chamomile tea, etc. It is also good to recognize when you are stressed so that you make conscious effort not to overeat just because your cousin is making fun of your new recipe right in front of everyone.
Watch what you sip
Fruit juices, soda, cocktails, beer, something something mocha latte...all of them are filled with calories. It's easy to lose track of how many drinks we have especially during this season. Be mindful of what you’re sipping. Request on the rocks when you can; it slows you down a bit. Alternate between water and your drink of choice and when you can water down your beverage. Take your time with each drink, nurse it for as long as possible and don’t forget to stay hydrated…with water. Water has been shown to boost metabolism, promote weight loss and boost overall general health.
So this season, I hope you eat, drink and be merry! while considering your body, your health and your life.