When you are trying to stay on a healthy course with a balanced diet, the holidays can feel daunting. Candy canes at cash registers, pies in the office kitchen, wine and spirits added to just about everything.
A lot of my patients tell me that they enter the holiday season feeling defeated. They just assume they are going to gain weight, and then, not surprisingly, they do.
For some people, indulging during the holidays affects their waistline. For people with a chronic condition like diabetes, it can affect their long-term health.
So, this holiday season, instead of resigning yourself to defeat, look for ways to enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your health.
1. Stay on schedule
For optimal energy, it’s best to eat meals and snacks at roughly the same time every day. Some people skip breakfast the morning of a big holiday feast, but it’s far healthier to eat regular, measured meals throughout the day. If you are traveling or don’t have much say over the schedule, keep some high-protein, low-carb snacks with you.
2. Go green
At a holiday dinner, fill up two-thirds of your plate with low-carb veggies, salad and low-fat proteins. This will help you avoid creams, gravies, butter and starches that can wreak havoc on your body. If the party is a potluck, bring the good food with you! For example, cauliflower mash is a tasty alternative to standard, starchy mashed potatoes.
3. Pick one “treat”
If it’s not the holidays without grandma’s pumpkin pie, take a small slice, but skip the creamy casseroles, breads and other desserts.
You might be traveling, you might be sticking to a hectic holiday schedule, but odds are you can squeeze in a 10-minute walk per day. Keep your body moving, and you’ll go a long way toward staying healthy and fit during the holidays.
5. Remember why you’re there
Even though food is a big part of the holidays, the season is really about family. Make new traditions that suit your needs. Maybe instead of (or in addition to) the embarrassment of desserts at Christmas, you an institute a holiday football game, or family dance party.
There is no need to spend December feeling defeated. The holidays are meant to be joyous for everyone – and with some planning, exercise and mindful eating, they can be.