Even if you’re committed to making healthy food choices, it’s easy to overindulge in the last three months of the year. Friends and family gather. Inclement weather can keep you indoors. Holiday traditions are defined by and infused with food, often sweets. People give you gifts of food. How can you combat all of the twinkling temptations that tempt us to overindulge? Here are some simple ways to stay on a healthy eating plan in the last quarter of the year:
Have healthy foods ready. Fill your refrigerator with healthy foods. Make it easy to eat healthy meals and snacks. Consider purchasing pre-cut and pre-washed fruit and vegetables so that you can quickly and easily grab a healthy snack when you’re pressed for time. Don’t go to a party or get-together hungry; try to eat a healthy snack or meal before you go. Drink enough water throughout the day; most of us don’t. Bake healthier treats at home that you can enjoy throughout the season — and share. Try to find substitutes or alternatives for high-calorie fall and winter treats. For example, could you swap out a couple of pumpkin spice lattes with pumpkin spice-flavored herbal tea?
Count calories. This isn’t true only during the holidays. If you take the time to inspect the number of calories and levels of sugar in your favorite meals and desserts, you may be surprised. Try keeping a food diary for a couple of weeks. If you are armed with that knowledge, you may be less likely to overindulge. Apps that help you track your food and calorie intake can be useful. Try one out!
Moderation, not deprivation. You may be secure in your self-discipline and confident you can simply walk away from the holiday cookie tray or that second piece of pie. But it doesn’t always work out that way. We’re all human. Instead of adopting a strict “no sweets” approach, try eating in moderation this season. It may save you from a costly over-eating session by keeping the stress levels in check. Is everyone having dessert? Enjoy a small portion, too, if it’s something that you enjoy and eat slowly and savor each bite.
Find more enjoyable activities that don’t involve food. A key step in weight loss and/or maintaining a healthy weight is finding things you enjoy that don’t involve eating. What do you enjoy that doesn’t involve food? A corn maze in October, a nice walk in the brisk morning air in November and drive-through holiday light displays in December — they can all be fun activities that don’t center around eating.
Take time for yourself. Despite all the trappings and marketing pressures, the holidays are fundamentally a time to be thankful while spending time with family and friends. Some of the overeating this time of year can be avoided by not overloading your schedule with unrealistic goals. You can’t get everyone the perfect gift and you may not be able to go to every holiday event, and that’s okay. Instead, celebrate the season the right way. Your body will thank you come January.