The end-of-year holiday line up can be a fun time, filled with parties, gifts, good times, and family gatherings. However, it can also be difficult to stick to a diet or maintain healthy habits near the end of the year. As your schedule fills up, keep these strategies in mind to make it through the holidays without losing all your healthy habits along the way.
Eat Smaller Portions
If you find yourself attending many events and adding on extra snacks and meals, opt for smaller portions. Maintaining social graces often means eating or drinking at least a small amount. So do just that - have a small serving. You can always go back for more later if you so choose.
Focus on Friends and Family
Don’t forget to be social at events and gatherings. Focus on hanging out, having fun, and interacting with those around you, rather than eating and drinking. If you do grab a drink or a small portion of food, take it away from the serving area. Socialize away from the food and drinks, and you will be less likely to go back for seconds and thirds.
Staying hydrated keeps you feeling full and your body working well. Don’t forget to drink more water if you are enjoying extra coffee, tea, or holiday beverages. Feeling fuller can help you consume less, and staying hydrated will help you avoid those feelings of malaise from eating and drinking more than usual.
Don’t want to miss out on enjoying fancy drinks? Make your holiday water fancy. Try sparkling water with fresh herbs, such as rosemary, or citrus fruits, like lemons or oranges, to cut out added sugars. Berries, like blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries, make a wonderful addition to water as well.
Interested in learning about more inventive ways to enjoy water during the holidays? Check out our healthy Halloween swaps article (Swap #6 includes chocolate mint!).
Set Boundaries and Limits
Before you get to the party, have a plan. Decide what rules you want to break and which ones you want to stick to. It is a good idea to keep in mind how much you would like to consume as you plan your meals across your days and weeks. The hardest part might be sticking to your boundaries. Enlist the help of some supportive friends, who can eat less with you and know not to offer you that second or third helping.
Offer to Bring Healthy Treats
Look for healthier alternatives that fit within your healthy habits. Opt for fresh whole foods and steer clear of baked goods with added sugars. If you are not sure that there will be healthy options, offer to bring one yourself. You can know exactly what you are eating or drinking and have a reliably healthy option while you enjoy the holiday celebrations.
Eat and Drink Slowly
All the excitement of seeing family and friends can lead us to imbibe quickly, which means losing track of what you are consuming. Take it slow. Remember the rest of the strategies - know what you’d like to eat, know what you do not want to eat, remember that gatherings are also about being social, and take your time with the food and beverages. In the same way that drinking water makes you feel fuller, eating slowly will give your brain time to realize that you have eaten enough. And in the end, you will eat less.
Make Healthy Choices First
With a lot of the “don’t do” strategies for staying healthy, it is nice to frame things in a positive way. Rather than looking for what not to do, look at what you can say yes to. That might mean having sparkling water before a cocktail or eating from the veggie platter before going for a chip. It can also mean being the person who offers to collect empty plates, take out the trash, or take a lap around the party to keep you moving. Make healthy choices first before you decide to break some rules or indulge.
Stick to Your Routines
Perhaps the greatest challenge of the holidays is the schedule shifts. You might have worked all year long to develop healthy habits, from exercising and dieting to self-care. Don’t lose sight of that hard work, and try your best to stick to your routines. If and when you need to break them, try to prioritize and limit those occurrences. For example, if you exercise every evening after work, holiday parties can put a damper on that habit. Try shifting to a morning routine, or be conscious of how many times you are willing to disrupt your plans. If you want to switch up your exercising routine for the holidays, there are 12 easy holiday workouts you could try this season.
Our nutritional goals can tank with all the extra holiday indulging. If you are concerned that your nutritional needs are not being met, consider supplementing your diet throughout the holidays. Make sure your body continues to get what it needs to function well, and you are more likely to feel better after any binging or rule-blending.
Be kind to yourself. You might have been working very hard to develop healthy habits leading up to the holiday season. So be kind to yourself and remember to practice self-care, which includes staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest. The extra social engagements of the holiday season, not to mention obligatory gatherings, can be tiring. Do not forget to carve out downtime and keep your health a top priority.
Choose YOUR Joys
Throughout the holidays, don’t lose sight of what your version of indulging and enjoying truly is. Perhaps staying healthy and making it through the holidays is easier than you think when you stop to consider what you really do and do not want. Maybe you look forward to your uncle’s eggnog all year long but can easily pass up on a slice of pie or flavored martini. Perhaps what you like more than any of that is simply the fun of getting together and enjoying great company or playing fun games. Remember to choose the things that bring you joy.