Survive the Holidays without Feeling Flabby, Frazzled, or Fatigued
Holidays [Hol-i-daze]: the period of time between Thanksgiving and New Years that one gives, does, and eats too much resulting in feeling flabby, frazzled, and fatigued
While the holidays elicit warm memories, it can also bring on stress - especially if you have a tendency to spend too much, do too much, and eat and drink more than usual.
And if our quest for that perfect holiday season is not enough, there's the stress of unwanted weight gain. Most adults gain a pound a year during this time of the year, which never goes away.
It starts with Halloween candy...and then the non-stop food celebration continues through the Thanksgiving feast, into December, and ends on New Year's Day.
Stress-Busting Holiday Suggestions
- Get plenty of rest. Sleep is especially important to keep up your energy and for your health and mood. One study found that people ate an extra 83 calories for every 30 minutes less sleep they got. In addition, tired, stressed-out persons often reward themselves (for surviving the rough day) with food or alcohol. Do you?
- Pump up your metabolism. Exercise helps to de-stress and improve feelings of depression that are so pervasive over the holidays. And, people who exercise tend to sleep better. But, don't forget that exercise burns calories so you can eat more. Yay!! Most people find that exercising first thing in the morning is the best approach. As the day goes on, many of us are likely to find an excuse not to move. So start your day with a morning walk, run, or just dance in the living room.
- Eat breakfast. While it may seem tempting to skip breakfast so you can eat more of your holiday favs later on in the evening, that plan will most likely backfire. Breakfast eaters tend to be leaner than those that skip. Instead of skipping, plan on a higher protein breakfast (eggs, beans, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.). Protein helps to keep your appetite in check.
- Don't go overly hungry. Many people, in anticipation of the afternoon feast, forgo eating anything until the big spread. Unfortunately, when you're THAT hungry, it's difficult to turn anything down, right? So enjoy a healthy breakfast and don't skip any meals. Then stop when you're feeling satisfied, not full.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Besides the fact that alcohol is loaded with calories, it also lowers your resistance to all those food temptations. Could you limit your alcohol to just one serving or drink only on specific days, rather than every day?
- Don't "diet." Over-restricting often leads to bingeing. Is that true for you? Instead, work on simply making better, informed choices.
- Save a little here and there. Just because there's a feast, doesn't mean you have to overindulge on everything! Yes, cutting back on a few calories here and there, over the long haul, can really make a difference. What about cutting back on how much butter you put in the mashed potatoes? Could you drain the grease off the turkey broth before thickening it into gravy? And, could you peel off the skin before eating your slice of turkey? Then again, if these foods are your "pleasers", feel free to enjoy them as you wish.
- "Eat your pleasers, skip your teasers." I say this all the time. It means, "Stop eating stuff just because it's there...instead, only eat foods that really excite your taste buds." So, instead of grabbing a big slice of something you've never tried before, take a thin sliver and then ask yourself if it's a teaser or a pleaser. Want to know more about pleasers and teasers, then read this BLOG.
- Practice mindful living. The holiday events go by so quickly. This season, make an commitment to be "present." Put down the phone. Don't multitask. Listen more closely to others. Breathe in the fresh air and watch the scenery on your next walk. And, eat your foods slowly and enjoy every morsel. Yes, even your so-called "forbidden" foods (more on this below). Once it is down the throat, there is no enjoyment! So savor every bit.
- Take it one day at a time. Every morning, when you awaken, think about your day's schedule - and what difficult situations you might have. Difficult family members? Long work day? Long list of things to do? Lots of food temptations? Plan your strategy and give yourself a "pep talk." Have you ever tried repeating a mantra such as. "I am calm and in control" or simply "Peace"? They actually work. Want to learn more, check out this BLOG.
- Remember it's called a "holi-DAY". Not a holi-week or a holi-month. Just because it's a holiday season, doesn't mean you have to overindulge every day. Maybe cut yourself some slack for a couple of your favorite holi-days...and decide that the other days will be "business as usual."
- Make (easy) dinner plans in advance. Many people tell me that putting dinner on the table is difficult - especially during the holiday season when we're going in a million directions. It's hard for me, too, when I don't have a plan. Here are some simple options when you'd rather spend your time doing something other than cooking and shopping.
- Find ME Time. Chances are you've thought of everyone this season. But, for improved mood and more energy, don't forget to take care of YOU, too. Everyone needs something different to get recharged. Maybe it's your favorite show, a good book, or just some quiet time alone. I love taking slow walks, doing yoga, and playing sudoku. What do YOU need this holiday season to recharge?
- Remember why you've all gathered together this holiday season. No, it's not just the food! It's time to catch up with family and friends - and to relax. Don't make the day all about the food.
- Have a spread of appetizers. You're not the only one who's hungry before dinner is served. If you want to save some calories for the real meal, cut your hunger with some healthy, lower calorie foods like nibbling on some sliced fruit or raw veggies. Or try your hand at cracking nuts from their shells.
- Stand up and lose weight. Years ago, my daughter noticed that when people sit too long, they overeat. And, it's not until they stand up do they really notice how MUCH they've overeaten! They typically stand up, clutch their belly and proclaim, "Oh, I think I ate too much!" So...take an opportunity part-way through the meal to stand up and check your fullness level. Why not fit in a walk between dinner and dessert?
- Enjoy Your Favorite Seasonal Foods. A reporter called me the other day, asking me for a tip to lighten up some of the favorite holiday foods and I said, "WHAT, are you crazy?" Let's face it, these favorite holiday foods help to make the holidays fun! The key is not to change the recipe, but change the way you eat it. (BTW Did you see my silly Halloween video about how to eat candy? The same tips apply).
- Give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite foods in moderation. But, be picky about your favorites. Don't tell me it's everything!
- Instead of stuffing food in your face (and then feeling totally guilty), make an effort to sit down, and slowly savor every bite! No more eating on the run, in your car, at your desk, or while cooking.
- Stop labeling food. Remember that food is neither good or bad, it's merely food. And, it's that label, not the food itself, that does you in. When you label certain foods as "bad", you're far more likely to eat it quickly, feel guilty, then eat some more! When you consciously, mindfully eat...you'll end up eating less but feeling more satisfied.
Have a healthy and happy holiday season!
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