It all begins with trick-or-treat bags full of goodies. Then, our homes get bombarded with sweet treats and endless confectionery temptations for months. It can be easy to tell ourselves that our healthier holiday hopes are ruined; we’ll just start fresh in the New Year. But it doesn’t have to be so black-and-white. Follow this achievable advice to survive the sugar season without turning into a Grinch.
- Keep it Moving. Just because the weather has cooled down, doesn’t mean you have to spend all winter as a couch potato. Maintaining your workout routine or starting a new one can be an excellent way to get through the holiday season. Not only does it help increase your energy so you can tackle those early morning Black Friday deals, but it also helps reduce stress, which tends to run pretty high this time of year.
- Eat the Pumpkin Pie. Or pecan, or apple, or whatever holiday desserts are your favorite. Telling yourself these things are off-limits only makes you more likely to overindulge in a moment of weakness. Instead of trying to avoid your temptations, see if you can find balance. Satisfy your sweet tooth while staying focused on your ultimate health goals.
- Savor the Flavor. Whether it’s sweet potato casserole or gravy-smothered dressing, the decadent dishes are plentiful. Try practicing mindfulness as you enjoy your meals and appreciate each bite. It often takes hours or even days to prepare these dinners, yet, within minutes, we’ve stuffed our bellies and are sitting in front of a football game or the Macy's parade. It can be really lovely to stop, breathe, savor each bite and think about all of the work that went into preparing it. You may find yourself getting full before you’ve cleared your plate because you’ve allowed your brain to catch up to your stomach. Now you’re truly listening to your hunger cues.
- Watch the Wine. At almost every holiday party or family function, the drinks tend to flow. Those calories can add up quickly, and, in turn, lower your ability to say no to second helpings at the dinner table. Watching your alcohol intake and keeping it to the recommended one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men can be an easy way to make it through the parties without packing on the pounds.
- Find a Family Outing. Many of our holiday traditions are spent sitting. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it can be invigorating to implement new ones that get you out and about. Try a family hike, a trip to the ice-skating rink, or, for a real workout, go "Griswold Family" and chop down your own Christmas tree together! New activities can create lifelong memories and help you discover traditions that aren’t about food.
Whatever tactics you use to get through the holidays, take it easy on yourself. This time of year presents all sorts of challenges and obstacles to overcome when it comes to all areas of health and wellness. If you end up eating an extra piece of pie or opting for a second helping of Grandma’s green bean casserole, it’s not the end of the world. Each day is a new opportunity to make memories and enjoy the real reason for the season.