Just like Joey Tribbiani from FRIENDS, we’re all guilty of getting annoyed when somebody comments on our holiday weight. They do say that a moment on the lips will forever be on the hips, right? It’s tempting to eat mindlessly during the holidays especially when we’re celebrating with friends and family every single day, but making healthy food choices this season doesn’t have to be a hopeless battle. You really can beat the odds and indulge in your favorite food by keeping everything in moderation, and here are just a few tips on how to keep your calories in check this Christmas.
1.Eat mindfully and snack sensibly.
Paying attention to what we eat is a big factor when keeping from overindulging this December. Often we eat while we’re distracted, whether it’s because we’re nibbling on munchies while working, or chowing down on our favorite treats while watching TV or texting. What’s worse is that these snacks are usually high in calories and filled with unhealthy ingredients that are immediately fattening.
We think that our tummies are telling us that we’re hungry, but our brains should remind us that we’re usually just eating for emotional comfort rather than as a necessity. Once we learn how to pay attention to what we’re eating, and learn to determine whether or not we’re really hungry or just craving for something to chew on, then that awareness can help us stave off a bunch of pounds right away.
Also, just because your family and friends send you tons of holiday chocolate bars, Christmas cookies, and seasonal sweets as treats and gifts doesn’t mean you have to finish them all off and feel obliged to eat them. Don’t eat just for the sake of eating. You can always send those treats to someone else, or better yet, offer them to the less fortunate. You don’t have to clear out your fridge by consuming everything in sight.
- Start the day with a good breakfast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but because we often sleep late during the holidays, we wake up late and tend to skip breakfast. Don’t. A hearty bowl of porridge or some hot oatmeal topped with a handful of berries or raisins can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and control your appetite in preparation for the rest of the day. This will keep you from overeating later on.
- Eat before heading out with your friends.
Again, when you eat healthier options at home, you can avoid overindulging on the less healthy options outside. Enough carbs and protein-rich meals taken at home will keep you full so that you can stay away from high-calorie meals outside. You wouldn’t want to fill up your tummy with MSG and fast food junk all day, would you?
- Drink lots of water.
If you’re the type to drink more alcohol during holiday celebrations, then staying hydrated is even more important for you. Maintaining your fluid intake with six to eight glasses of water helps keep your body healthy and hydrated especially during the cold weather.
- Go easy on the buffet.
Ah, the buffet. It’s practically a Christmas season staple now, and nobody can resist the overwhelming array of food choices spread out in front of us at buffets. You might have the tendency to eat your money’s worth, but remember that keeping yourself healthy is more important than getting value-for-money food. Control the portions of your servings, especially when it comes to festive desserts. Slow down when you’re at the buffet table—you’re not going to run out.
- Plan ahead.
If you’re having a hard time controlling what you eat when the oh-so-tempting and devilishly delicious food is in front of you, enlist the help of your trusty smartphone. Use fitness apps and calorie trackers to keep you in check, and manage your food records by keeping a food diary. You can jot down everything you eat and analyze your list afterwards. Make adjustments and identify which ones were actually necessary, and which ones were consumed out of boredom. You’ll be surprised to see what you can find out about your eating habits when you review your meal intake at the end of each day.
You can also plan what to eat the next morning. A good choice would be an energy-boosting spinach omelet, some high-energy mushrooms, and a happy little glass of potassium-rich banana smoothie. When you’re eating, don’t wolf everything down in a single scoop. Savor each bite instead, chew properly, and drink up between bites. Eating more slowly signals your brain that you’re satisfied, causing you to eat less than when you’re eating your meals with superhuman speed.
- Keep up your exercise routine.
People often neglect their regular exercise during the holidays, especially since everyone is too busy with celebrations and preparations left and right. But you should never skip your workout. Make time to exercise especially now that you’re eating more. Pace yourself during meals, then exercise regularly to keep fit. Don’t make the common mistake of foregoing your workout and thinking you’ll start up again next month as a New Year’s resolution. There’s a reason why gyms are always half empty this time of year, so take advantage of those gym promos. It’s your chance to enjoy the uncrowded gym in peace without rubbing against sweaty regulars with every step you take. You don’t even have to wait your turn when trying to use the treadmill!
- Respect your body and take time to recover.
There’s always a big tendency to wear ourselves out and be physically and mentally exhausted during the holidays when our schedules are jam-packed. Know the limits of your body. Be aware of when your energy gets drained, and be aware of how much food you can actually take. Set aside some time for recovery phases. Pick a day and stick to your plan of just staying in and relaxing. Recharge your energies and get a good night’s sleep. Remember that you won’t be at your best when your energy levels are depleted. Making healthy choices this season isn’t just all about food intake—it’s also about recuperating. You might feel obliged to stay on full alert for every single event, but you’re not a robot, are you?
Cathy Dellosa Lo is a freelance writer by day and a geek by night. She constantly struggles between sniffing the novels lined up in her bookshelf and trying to whip up something unusual in the kitchen, much to the dismay of her loving husband. To this day, she still has not cooked a decent meal. She one day hopes to soar the skies as a superhero for her future children, but for now, she strongly believes in saving lives through her works in fiction. She also maintains a personal blog on her rookie misadventures as a noob wife at http://quirkylifeofthenoobwife.blogspot.com/