The weather is getting colder and most of us are looking forward to a little break before the New Year begins. This is the time of year where we can unwind a little and celebrate the holidays with big family dinners and cocktail parties with friends. Of course, this also means rich meals, sugary treats and desserts as well as the added stress of gift-buying and travel. However, you can make it a goal to maintain your healthy habits through the holiday season with these holiday survival tips:
1. Be aware and limit the amount of the refined carbohydrates you are eating. Many families have the tradition of serving 'holiday food' that can be delicious, but when overdone, can add to your waistline. The garlic mashed potatoes, homemade biscuits, pies, and cookies can send your blood sugar on a wild roller-coaster ride and can negatively affect your insulin, causing your body to store fat. Instead, choose a small one or two bite serving (as not to deprive yourself completely of the holiday tradition) and opt for extra green veggies or salad to fill up your plate - remember keep your plate colorful for a wider variety of nutrition.
2. Watch your portion size. Festive holiday plates are often much larger than what we use at home on a regular basis. Be mindful of this when spooning food onto your plate or squeezing on that extra treat. If you load up your oversized plate, you will likely polish it off, so be sure to pay attention to the quantity of food you are serving yourself - you can always go up for seconds if you are still hungry!
3. Have a plan before you arrive. If you know that holiday food will completely derail you from your regular diet, eat a small healthy meal before you show up. That way, you can enjoy a few of the holiday specials without gorging on foods you'll feel guilty about later. Don't feel obligated to eat everything that is put out just because it is traditional holiday food. You can also use the buddy-system. If you are tempted to overindulge, have your partner or friend be your buddy - share the dessert and keep each other in check!
4. Limit your cocktails. Most holiday drinks are loaded with sugar and mixers oftentimes have artificial colors and flavoring. Instead, reach for the red wine and limit yourself to 1-2 glasses. Sparkling water in a wine glass with a garnish is a festive alternative!
5. Don't focus entirely on the food. While a lot goes into creating a holiday meal, there are other wonderful things to experience during the holidays. Get curious about what everyone has been doing or introduce yourself to the people you haven't met yet. Take photographs, watch the gift opening, play a game, or dance!
6. Reduce your stress. High cortisol ("the stress hormone") can lead to issues with insulin sensitivity, weight gain, and sugar cravings. Manage your stress response with deep breathing exercises. Yoga, walking and meditation can help calm you down during the holidays too, but overdoing exercise through intense cardio and high impact workouts can actually be counterproductive and raise cortisol. Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol can help reduce your body's stress levels too. You can also try to keep yourself organized by writing down your to-do and shopping lists, and putting your travel information together in one place. This will help reduce any last minute panic when rushing off to the party!
Remember to be kind to yourself this holiday season. If you slip up on your diet, don't let it ruin your day or be a downward spiral, just get back to making healthy choices. Enjoy the time off, have fun with friends and family, and have a happy holiday season!
I have suffered from numerous health challenges conventional medicine couldn't fix. This blog is a place for me to share my experiences and information with others who want to feel better again too. Please share your thoughts in the comments. I always look forward to supporting you to improve your health!