The holiday season can be a festive time, complete with office parties, dinners with friends, seasonal lattes while shopping and a seemingly never-ending array of tempting food designed to make you pack on the pounds in the weeks leading up to between New Year’s Day.
But along with the fun can come stress over getting the right present for everyone, making sure you create the “perfect” holiday for family and friends, and wearing yourself out from attending too many parties — which doesn’t help your eating habits.
“You’ve got the stress of the holidays, along with a lack of sleep, and, for many, a cauldron of bubbling emotions coming to the surface — and you’ve got all this food beckoning you at every turn,” says Warren Huberman, PhD, a clinical psychologist specializing in weight control at New York University Medical Center, according to an article at WebMD.com. “It can be a dangerous combination for those who have problems controlling what they eat.”
Here are eight tips to help you get through the next couple of weeks with no regrets.
If you are spending time with family, bring some fresh vegetables with you. Moms love to have our favorites waiting for us when we arrive home, which can mean piles of cookies, cakes and other sweets, but not a vegetable in sight. (And, no, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows do not count.)
If you find yourself in that situation, there is nothing wrong with bringing your own healthy foods with you. It isn’t always easy, but by having a plan and following through with it, you can stay securely in the present and avoid sliding into old patterns and old ways of eating. (prevention.com)
On a related note, start with the fruits and veggies. Many of us don’t eat enough vegetables anyway, so take this opportunity to eat the healthier options first. By the time you get to the cheesecake and chocolate dip, you may find that you have less room to overindulge in high-calorie foods. (ghc.org)
Never arrive at a party hungry. New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, Ph.D., says planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. “Don’t go to a party when you’re starving,” she warns. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate. (webmd.com)
Everywhere you turn, you see tempting food. Listen to your body before, during and after you eat. If a cookie looks good to you, ask yourself: Do I want it because I think it will curb my hunger or because I want to treat myself? If you really are hungry, then eat it and enjoy it. But be sure to pay attention to how you feel 10 to 15 minutes afterward. If you’re tired, spacey, or depressed, it wasn’t really a treat, was it? (prevention.com)
Be sure to pace yourself. Have you ever tried telling yourself you’ll only eat during the first half hour of a party? Goldberg says this strategy is a mistake. “If you cram in as much as you can in half an hour, you chew faster,” she explains. “Chewing more slowly will fill you up with less food.” To munch at a leisurely pace, try putting your fork down between every bite. (webmd.com)
Variety is the spice of life. Try small amounts of multiple foods rather than taking two or three servings of any one food. This helps keep your portions smaller and ensures that you will get to taste more dishes. (ghc.org)
Limit your alcohol intake. There is nothing wrong with having a drink, but remember you are consuming empty calories. There are also health risks involved with excess drinking. If you do have more than one alcoholic drink, make a point to drink a full glass of water between drinks. It will slow you down, fill you up and help keep you from getting dehydrated. (ghc.org)
The most important strategy of all. Stick to your exercise routine during the holidays or start one. And if you are feeling inspired, add five or 10 minutes to it.