Christmas, Hanukkah and New years are just around the corner. It’s the time of the year when we all shop too much, drink too much and eat as much as possible. For this 2-3 week period we’re held hostage to our surroundings of cookies, cakes, wine, chocolate and all manner of tasty treats.  Staying healthy over the holiday period is an exercise in self-restraint -one that’s difficult for even the most disciplined amongst us!

So it’s not surprising to learn that losing weight and hitting the gym are the most common new years resolutions that people make. But unfortunately these resolutions usually get broken by the time april rolls around so this year try something different. This time, before the holiday season starts, put together a game plan. Think about the best ways to stay healthy while spending time with your family, friends and colleagues. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1 – Know which foods have a high calorie content but are low in nutritional value

By now you probably have a rough idea of what foods are high in calories and which ones are not. As a guide, food that are high in calories include:

  • Sugary drinks including most fruit juices
  • Pastries, cookies and tarts
  • High calorie coffee drinks –stick to plain, black coffee instead
  • Some dips like hummus, guacamole and many salad dressings
  • Flavored yogurts

The point here is not to deprive yourself of such treats. Instead, the key is to be aware of what foods are high in calories so that you indulge in moderation.

2 – Eat smaller meals instead of “saving yourself” for one huge buffet

Many people take this tact and believe that instead of eating small amounts throughout the day they’ll save themselves for a big turkey dinner. Don’t fall into this trap. Your body and your metabolism work better when you consume smaller portions of nutritious food throughout the day instead of splurging and possibly over eating during one meal.

3 – Opt for healthy snacks this holiday

The holiday period is either the best time for snacking or the worst. It depends on how you look at it. You don’t need to deprive yourself of snacks while watching those around you eat (you’ll be miserable). Where possible stick to healthy snacks that include things like fruits and veggies, salmon, pita chips or shrimp with cocktail sauce.

4 – Cut down on the alcohol

This one is a big deal. An average serving of white table wine can add up to about 121 calories while a bottle of regular beer contains about 148 calories [1]. Chances are good that you won’t be having just one drink so multiply those numbers by the number of drinks you might have on Christmas eve, Christmas day and New years eve. That’s a lot of calories.

The take away message: Enjoy alcoholic beverages but drink in moderation.

5 – Exercise

The cold weather during these fall and winter months can easily discourage us from going outside to get our usual exercise. Additionally the countless number of holiday events and parties that you want to attend means that finding time to exercise is even harder. It’s understandable that you won’t have time for much exercise but make time for some exercise. A little is better than nothing.

Depending on what your normal exercise routine is don’t completely stop all exercise for the entire holiday season. Cut down to once or twice a week where possible instead.

6 – Tips for attending parties

If you are attending a lot of parties this season here are some great tips to follow:

  • Don’t go to parties hungry – If you are attending a holiday party, eat a small healthy snack before you go. This will save you from mindlessly snacking from the moment you arrive.
  • If a friend or family member is hosting the event, offer to bring a dish so that you are guaranteed to have at least one healthy option.
  • Instead of piling your plate a mile high with things you don’t really like, pick only the foods that you actually enjoy
  • Stick to healthy party foods like bruschetta, smoked salmon, fruits and cheeses

By the end of the holiday season if despite your best efforts you end up putting on a few pounds don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s normal for most people to gain 1-2 pounds during this season [2]. Over the next few weeks just try to stick to a commitment of healthy eating and moderate exercise

References

1) Canadian living. NUTRITION CALORIES IN ALCOHOL: A COMPARISON. AUG 17, 2011
BY: NATALIE BAHADUR
http://www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/article/calories-in-alcohol-a-comparison

2) Time. The Annoying Truth About Holiday Weight Gain. Mandy Oaklander. Dec 01, 2016
http://time.com/4587800/holiday-weight-gain-diet-sugar/