Has there ever been a truer falsehood than “I’m not going to overeat during the holidays this year”? Probably not, since most of us have said it; yet we often overindulge anyway. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American gains about one pound during the holiday season. That might not sound like a lot, but the same research suggests that most were unlikely to lose that added weight after the holidays. Here are some tips for mindful eating which can help keep that waistline from expanding during the holidays:
- Stay active with family and friends. Take walks together after eating or snacking, ride bikes, go to a museum, or play a game of Frisbee. Just keep moving to keep your mind off the left-overs in the refrigerator.
- Don’t quit your normal exercise routine. Time constraints may have you skipping a class or the gym, but try to make fitness a priority in order to keep ahead of any holiday weight gain.
- Only eat when you are hungry. Easier said than done when there are yummy goodies at hand throughout the season, but keep snacking to a minimum. Avoid snacks with added sugars or unhealthy fats to keep the weight off.
- Portion control is key to not packing on the pounds. Go for a smaller plate when available to help keep portions in check.
- Balance meals if you’re doing the holiday cooking. Comfort foods are usually the go-to for holidays, but make sure you have plenty of healthy vegetable, protein, and fiber dishes to limit weight gain.
- Desserts are synonymous with the holidays, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t partake. But you also don’t have to taste them all! Pick one or two and treat yourself reasonably.
But it’s not all about the food…
Stress can play a big factor in weight gain and your overall health during the holidays too. Whether you’re worried about spending time with disagreeable family members, managing a hectic holiday event schedule, shopping for everyone on your list, or anticipating the financial hit your checking and savings accounts will take after the season, the stress from worry can actually trigger your appetite. Cortisol, the stress hormone can rise, increasing your insulin levels, causing you to crave sugary, fatty foods. Here are some tips to help you cope with the stress instead of overeating:
- Reach out to your support network if you’re overwhelmed. Chances are they are too. You can help each other cope through the season.
- Accept family and friends as they are and put away disagreements until after the holidays.
- Make a gift budget and stick to it; Pair down that shopping list when necessary and don’t feel guilty about doing it.
- Set a schedule in advance of the holidays so you can make time for all of the parties, work functions, kids’ events, shopping, and decorating so you have a plan without a lot of surprises.
- Learn the word “No” and don’t be afraid to say it. It’s so easy to overcommit yourself during this time of year, so be realistic and say yes to only those things that you truly want to make time for.
- Make immune health an important goal. Both weight gain and stress can decrease your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, flus, and general fatigue.
- Get a massage, or two or three! There may be no more important time of the year to practice a little self-care than the holidays. A massage can help melt away the stress and put you in a more relaxed mood so you can enjoy the holidays.
If you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed during the holidays, LHAA offers yoga classes and a massage clinic to help you cope with hectic schedules and all the stressful activities that come with the holiday season. We also offer gift certificates for massage to help make your holiday shopping a little less stressful.
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