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
It’s that time of the year again. 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. The average person gains a pound a year during this time of the year, which never goes away. That might explain the 10 pounds many of us gained in our 20’s, another 10 pounds during our 30’s, and so on.
There’s good news. The holiday season can be more fulfilling and fun (and less fattening) by following these simple stress-busting 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?
- Find time for exercise. Exercise helps to de-stress and improve feelings of depression that are so pervasive over the holidays. People who exercise tend to sleep better – and of course, 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.
- 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.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Besides the fact that alcohol is loaded with calories, it also lowers your resistance to all those food temptations.
- Don’t “diet.” Over-restricting often leads to bingeing. Is that true for you? Instead, work on simply making better, informed choices.
- 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 and 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!
- 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.”
- 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. Do you make dinner plans? Here are some simple options when you’d rather spend your time in other ways:
- Buy a menu & shopping list. Clients who have ordered menus from www.emeals.com say they like the inexpensive weekly menu options, complete with shopping lists. Pick the healthier options so you save calories for your favorite holiday foods.
- Prep in advance. www.Prepdish.com shows you how to shop and prep for a whole week’s meals in one afternoon. With each week’s menus, you get a shopping list, and detailed preparation instructions. Then, for the next four evenings, dinner is a breeze…just put the ingredients together and warm it up. While their menus are gluten-free (and I’m not), I’ve still purchased from them because I like the wide variety of foods offered.
- Let someone else shop for you. Most grocery stores have an option to shop for you, but you still have to make up the list. With www.HelloFresh.com, you select the number of meals and they’ll send you all the food (in a refrigerated box) you need along with cooking instructions. The meals include enough veggies for most people, but I wish they had more. Other similar companies include Blue Apron, Sun Basket, and others.
- 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 sudoko. What do YOU need this holiday season to recharge?
- 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.
- 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.