Updated: Jan 18, 2020
The holiday season is here! Chock full of family gatherings, office parties, school parties, friends-giving or just sitting on the couch eating the last of the cookies that you baked for whatever reason. Now is the hardest time of the year to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Don't get me wrong - you should indulge! In fact, regular indulgences are one way to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle. But sometimes the holiday's result in indulgences becoming more routine than we would like. Then one morning we wake up 5 to 8 lbs heavier and wonder, how did this happen? I've been there and let me tell you, it is harder to get rid of those 5 to 8 lbs that creep up during the holiday's than it is to maintain balance during the holidays.
Plus, if you have digestive health issues, such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, moodiness and abdominal pain, indulgences are much more difficult. You can feel alone and isolated with your gut health struggles, while others eat and drink whatever they want. Especially when foods that you used to be able to eat, you can't eat anymore. It is a tough struggle that can make you want to avoid holiday parties.
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Here are 5 easy tips to follow to avoid holiday weight gain and to enjoy indulgences.
#1 TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR LIFESTYLE
Do not be ashamed of your health goals. Whether it is maintaining a healthy gut or your in the middle of a weight loss plan, tell the host. Make sure to ask for healthy foods to be available. If they can't be, ask if you can bring something. This way, you at least know that there is one healthy dish that you can feel good about eating.
Following a healthy lifestyle or a specific meal plan or dealing with a food allergy or sensitivity is becoming more widely accepted and understood. The host will appreciate your honesty and they may just surprise you with a change to the menu! Also, don't be surprised if there are other people following the same lifestyle as you and you don't know it. They will be happy for the healthier option as well.
#2 KEEP EXERCISING OR START MOVING
I don't want to assume you have a regular workout routine. But if you do, stay on track with your current schedule. You may even want to take advantage of some unused vacation days or downtime to try a new class, such as Spin or Pilates. Staying on your current routine will definitely help manage your weight during the holidays and keep your gut healthy. Exercise helps the gut maintain more good bacteria, which helps to fight pathogens entering the body as well as promote healthy bowel movements.
If you don't have a regular workout routine, try to move as much as you can during the day. I have a standing desk in my home office and I love it! Did you know Livestrong.com reports a 130 lb woman burns about 99 calories per hour standing quietly? That can total 792 calories in 8 hours. You have heard the following advice I am sure: take stairs, park far away from the store and stop sitting so much. It may seem redundant to repeat them but those tips work! You can maintain your weight even during the holidays just by making a conscious effort to move.
But don't use a strong exercise routine as an excuse to overindulge. That will be counter-productive.
#3 SAMPLE EVERYTHING
The great thing about holiday's is we eat foods that we normally wouldn't eat everyday. Think stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, cheese plates, stuffing, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts with bacon, pumpkin pie and any dessert you can possibly think of! You don't want to be the only person at the table eating a salad while everyone else is eating the holiday spread. Unless of course you love salad (like me). I like trying a little bit of everything because then I feel satisfied that I had a holiday experience. Plus, there is usually a new dish or two around so I try to eat that as well. My definition of a little bit of everything is a tablespoon or two of the food.
#4 EAT HALF PORTIONS
Maybe eating a little bit of everything doesn't appeal to you. You may really enjoy eating the basics and don't care to try new dishes. If you are into the basics, try to eat half the size of what you would normally eat. Instead of 4 slices of turkey breast, have 2. Instead of a cup of mashed potatoes and gravy, have half a cup. By eating half portions, you'll eat all of the foods you love and you won't feel overly full at the end of the meal. Leaving room for dessert!
#5 KEEP YOUR HANDS BUSY
This may seem counter-intuitive because when your eating, your hands are busy! Am I right? Try this tip: instead of keeping a plate with food in your hands during a cocktail party, have a glass of seltzer or club soda or water with lemon. Most people are dehydrated and don't know it. When we are dehydrated, we mistake our thirst for hunger. Drink a glass of water before eating something. If you are still hungry, then eat the food. Nine times out of ten you won't want to eat the food because your stomach is now filled with water.
The above 5 easy tips to avoid holiday weight gain can be adopted not only during the holidays but anytime of the year. With just a little bit of effort you can maintain your weight no matter what large gathering you are attending. Before you know it, with enough practice, the tips become a lifestyle! Let me know if you try any of the above by leaving a comment below. Happy holidays and happy eating!