Maintaining any kind of normalcy between Halloween and New Years is tough. Unless you’re Scrooge or have a freakishly large amount of willpower, odds are your routines – eating, exercise, sleep, work, etc – will be thrown off a little during this time of year.
For many of us, the holiday craziness leads to weight gain. Though the average gain is modest (1-2 lbs), most people don’t lose it come January, which means that each year we’re adding a little more jelly to our bellies. Over time, this extra weight increases the risk of health problems and makes us feel older and lazier. So this year, aim to maintain your weight through the entire month of December. It’s not as hard as it sounds, if you follow a few basic tips:
1. Get back on track right away after overindulging. This is probably the biggest factor, because “all-or-none” thinking (i.e. “I’ve already blown it, so I think I’ll just eat whatever I want in December, then diet in January) leads to weight gain pretty quickly. When you’ve overdone it at a party or holiday meal, don’t waste energy worrying about it, just get back to healthy eating today, not tomorrow.
2. Skip the foods you don’t love or can have anytime. Pick and choose your indulgences, so you don’t feel deprived, but don’t waste your calories on stuff that’s not worth it.
3. When you’re not at a holiday meal or get-together, eat even more vegetables and fruits than usual. As always, making veggies and fruits the base of your meals is the best way to lose or maintain weight because they’re bulky (take up room in your stomach) and low calorie.
4. Drink water between alcoholic drinks, and before loading up on second helpings of food. Water won’t make you lose weight, but if your thirst is quenched and there’s water volume in your stomach, you’re less likely to overeat.
5. Schedule in a few extra minutes of exercise everyday. If you foresee that following your gym routine is going to be a problem during the holidays, come up with an alternative plan. Schedule your exercise for specific days and times, because if you wait for spare time to arise, it won’t. This is a good month to try new forms of exercise, do active things with your kids, or just commit to a brisk walk morning and/or night.
6. Eat regularly instead of skipping meals in “preparation” for feasting. Skipping meals messes with your metabolism, and leaves you with little energy. Plus, you can’t make good eating decisions when you’re starving, so you’ll probably take in more calories overall than you would if you ate regularly.
7. Wear tight pants to holiday meals and parties. There’s no better way to remind you that you’re full, and you can only eat so much before you’ll literally burst out of your clothes.
Following these tips will allow you to enjoy yourself without feeling deprived, and will make for a much more pleasant January. Happy holidays!
Amelia Winslow is a nutritionist, food lover, new mom, and the founder of Eating Made Easy, a blog that makes healthy eating easier for busy people. Get recipes, food news, nutrition tips, answers to your burning questions and more on Eating-Eade-Easy.com.