Right now you’re probably thinking about grabbing a mini candy bar from the stash of leftover Halloween candy on your dining room table. Or maybe your thoughts are filled with pumpkin pies, baked macaroni and cheese, and fried turkeys. The holidays are upon us; and while it’s true that many people experience weight gain during these latter months of the year, it is certainly avoidable. With a conscious effort to maintain healthy habits, it’s easy to avoid the holiday bulge.
Use these tips to help you stay on the right track:
1. Don’t use the “It’s the holidays” excuse. Holidays are a special time of year to gather with loved ones and repeat family traditions. We wouldn’t want you to miss out on a slice of homemade pecan pie on Thanksgiving Day. But there’s a difference in indulging on Turkey Day and using the holidays as an easy justification for a two month overindulgence bender. Be aware of what you’re eating. If you could have that same cookie or pile of mashed potatoes any other day of the year, you might want to think twice.
2. Make healthy substitutes. Try to incorporate healthy alternatives to unhealthy ingredients in your favorite holiday recipes. For instance, instead of regular bacon try turkey bacon. Or opt for fresh fruit rather than fruit canned in syrup. Swap out that heavy cream for skim milk and see if anyone notices. Use greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. Consider low sodium soups over their salty counterparts. Substitutions like these are a really easy way to save you and your family some calories without sacrificing flavor.
3. Stay active in cold weather. Why wait until after New Years to start hitting the gym? It will only be overcrowded then! If you’re already in the habit of exercising you’ll be much more likely to maintain your goals in January. It takes 28 days of doing something to form a habit. Whether it be going to a gym, walking outside, or working out in the comfort of your home, start now and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
4. Manage stress. Between shopping for Christmas presents, preparing for house guests, and wrapping up work projects before the new year, it’s no secret that approaching holidays can induce a bit of anxiety. Make sure you manage stress in a healthy way. Ask for help if you need it. Find a meditation method that works for you or exercise to reduce stress. Try to manage time wisely by not waiting until the last minute to get things done. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and remind yourself that things could always be worse. Whatever you do, don’t let the holidays get you down!