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The holiday season is upon us! This season is always full of celebrations and spending time with loved ones. However, the holidays also teem with tasty temptations and can present challenges if you are trying to maintain healthy habits. Here are some tips to stay on track with your healthy habits during the holiday season.
1. Create and Stick to a Plan
To help maintain healthy habits, identify potential problem areas and anticipate situations that may present challenges, advises Kate Geagan, MS, RD, president of IT Nutrition, a nutrition consulting company in Park City, Utah. Allow yourself some slack and don’t aim for perfection. “Choose to focus on two areas at most,” recommends Geagan, “such as [sticking to] a firm workout schedule [and] avoiding the cheese tray if that is a weakness.” By recognizing and anticipating your primary weaknesses, you are more likely to stick with a plan, she says.
2. Maintain a Regular Schedule
While the holidays can be hectic, it is important to eat at normal mealtimes. Don’t try to “make up” for bad eating by eating less or not eating at all during breakfast or lunch. “This sets you up for poor energy, hunger, and bad food choices at the next party" notes Geagan. Once again, it helps to have a plan! For example, if you are going to an evening holiday party or dinner, eat a balanced, lighter lunch such as a mixed green salad with grilled chicken and chopped apples. It is also helpful to eat a high-fiber snack, like a handful of colorful veggies, mid-afternoon to avoid going to the party starving. This will help prevent over eating later in the day.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Before you pile just any type of food at the party onto your plate, scan all the offerings on the table. Consciously take one “virtual” trip through the buffet to see what is being served. This will help you make better choices. Be mindful when eating - savor both the food you eat and the conversations you have with other guests; eating more slowly will help you be more aware of when you are satisfied and feeling full. Another strategy is to create a physical buffer zone that is a safe distance from the buffet, says Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LD, owner of LivingWell Communications in Chicago. This prevents you from being within arm’s distance of those tempting dishes and it also discourages mindless munching.
4. Stay Consistent With Your Workout Routine
Plan ahead and stay consistent with your workouts! As the holidays approach exercise becomes less of a priority. By planning ahead you can stay on top of your workout routine. Plan your workouts each week based off your schedule for the upcoming week. If you're not sure about your schedule or whether you'll even have time to get in a workout, plan for the worst-case scenario. That may be staying in grandma's basement with no equipment and only 10 or 15 minutes to yourself. Remember, the only workout you'll regret is the one you didn't do. Even if you can only squeeze in 20 minutes of exercise, do it!