The holidays are upon us – whether we like it or not! – and so it is helpful to check in as we approach some of the busiest (& potentially unhealthiest) days of the year. So often we come off of the holidays feeling as though we need to detox, cleanse, and overall just ‘un-do’ all of the damage that was done. But this doesn’t need to be the case. Here are some tips to help us arrive on January 1st feeling fit, healthy, and ready to take on the New Year. Some of these points are reiterations of the blog that was posted around Thanksgiving but I truly believe repetition can be a good thing J.
- Keep a schedule. This applies to both food and exercise:
- Nutrition – keep your same eating pattern. Avoid the trap of skipping lunch when you know dinner will be a big meal – you just end up arriving at dinner starving and eat way more than what would have been a good idea. Eat regular meals and snacks to manage your hunger and fullness and keep your eating on schedule.
- Avoid over-compensation for the day before. We’ve all done it where we wake up saying ‘I will not eat at all today’ in response to the overly large meal we ate the night before (partly as a result of not following the tip in the above bullet point). What then happens is that we don’t eat, then end up starving at some point, overeat, and cycle continues. It’s okay to eat less, for example, the next day at breakfast; but you still want to keep your regular meal pattern. Focusing on lean proteins and fruits and vegetables that day after a big day of eating can help our bodies to feel better, along with a lot of water.
- Exercise – keep this up! Is it not partially ironic that at the time when stress levels can run the highest, we forego one of our most important stress-relieving mechanisms ( = exercise)?! Maybe we have less time for exercise to we make it shorter – 30-45 minutes instead of an hour, for example. But keep those exercise-induced endorphins coming to manage the stress, anxiety, and food of the holidays!
- Be choosey. If there are 5 different dessert options at the holiday party, be selective with what you take (instead of sampling everything…). If you just don’t like the cheesecake, don’t eat it. It’s not worth the (up to 1,000) calories if you don’t love it.
- Bring something healthy to share. A healthy veggie app, side salad, or whole grain dish can help offset some of the heavier meal/side dishes and ensures there will be at least one thing that is healthy to eat.
- Watch the liquid calories. We can drink literally hundreds, up to 1,000’s of calories and not feel full. Alcohol can be particularly high in calories with the double whammy of lowering our inhibitions, which can increase our food intake as well. So perhaps consider setting a limit (1 or 2?) of how many drinks you will have on a given night. If it is not social night, consider off-setting the other nights by taking a break from alcohol.
- Keep the plate method in mind when plating your food. Particularly at buffets or when you are serving yourself, remember which plate method is most appropriate for you based upon your nutrition goals and still aim to follow that when serving yourself. This helps to maintain balance on our plates even if the foods themselves are different from what we normally eat.
- Keep meal planning! While some meals will be eaten out or with others socially, there are likely still many ther meals that are at home or in an environment in which we have more control. Plan those meals out to be more healthful and balanced. Even if you are away from home, aim to eat at restaurants that have healthier meal options, or pack/bring health staples with you so that there is still some meal & snack consistency.
Ultimately we do have control over our nutrition – not every meal may be within our control, but we should choose that which we can, and manage what and how much we eat when the food is not on our control. Let’s start the new year off not needing to set the crazy resolutions to make up for the previous few weeks!