It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also one of the most challenging times to eat healthily. Everywhere you turn, there’s chocolate, alcohol and countless opportunities to lead you astray from your health goals. It’s enough to make you want to give up on your goals entirely!
While it might seem like a lost cause, we’ve got some tips to help you navigate this season with your health intact. Believe it or not, there are some things that you can do this year to make sure your food choices are helping rather than hindering your health goals.
Get your mindset right
Set realistic expectations for yourself. Don’t focus on weight loss or try to make any drastic dietary changes during the festive season. More often than not, you’ll disappoint yourself. This doesn’t mean that you should write off the whole festive season either. Understand that “breaking even” on your weight during this time is a big win, and you’ll do this by making healthy choices throughout.
Don’t take every opportunity to indulge
There will be plenty of opportunities to indulge during the festive season. If you want to be mindful during the holidays, you’ll need to accept that not every occasion needs to be a ‘special occasion’ that requires a ‘special indulgence’. Choose one or two occasions when you’ll ‘indulge’, and be mindful during the rest by choosing mostly whole foods, skipping seconds, limiting alcohol and being aware of portion sizes.
Manage your expectations
Don’t expect yourself to make perfectly healthy choices during the holidays. Accept imperfection and learn to move forward. Expect it to be hard. You will be tempted.
Eat a balanced diet
Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet throughout the holiday season. This means getting plenty of vegetables and fruits as well as protein, whole carbohydrates and healthy fats. This will keep your body in balance and you’ll be less tempted to go for sugary, refined foods.
Don’t neglect your exercise routine
If you want to stay on track during the holiday season, don’t neglect your exercise routine. Exercise is a great way to channel stress and boost energy, which helps you stay in a healthy mindset. Working out also burns calories, helping you keep up with the holiday treats.
This is important all year round but especially during the festive season when there are so many alcohol-based beverages flowing around town. If you stay hydrated by drinking 2 – 2.5L of water per day, you’re less likely to indulge in both food and alcohol.
Slowing down when you eat is key as it’ll help you control your portions and be able to know when you’re full. Take your time while you eat by thinking about what you’re eating, talking to the person next to you, and placing your knife and fork down between bites—don’t rush through meals just because they taste delicious.
Be aware of portions
If you eat a decent portion size at three meals and two small snacks each day, you should be able to manage your weight throughout the holidays. Try to avoid having seconds by waiting 10 minutes before your next helping. By then, you probably won’t be hungry anymore.
Don’t wait to start eating healthy in January
Do not start the New Year on an empty stomach, instead resolve to be healthy now. The rewards will be huge because every little effort counts on this journey towards changing how you eat.
Having the “I’ll start next year” mentality can prolong unhealthy habits and cause weight gain. If you’re serious about your health, it may be helpful to follow these tips. Set boundaries for yourself and know your values when it comes to your well-being! Remember, it’s okay to say no to certain foods and habits that don’t align with your health goals. Slip-ups will probably happen, but don’t abandon your health after they do. Move on and continue to make healthy choices!
Written by: Jodi Bransby | Health Coach
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