With Thanksgiving behind us, we are officially in full holiday season swing. I love this time of year when the city is festive, things slow down at work and there are a lot of social functions to connect with friends and family. With all the joy and excitement of the end of the year, this also is a time where there’s more food, more alcohol, more snacks, more sweets and more gluttony. If we just throw all sense of discipline out the window with the intent of making the usual New Year’s resolution to get healthier and lose weight, we may end up setting ourselves up for an uphill battle. The average person can gain up to 5 lbs. during this time and usually doesn’t lose it all in the New Year.
To minimize this holiday season gluttony while still having fun, check out my Busy Mom’s Cheat Sheet top 10 holiday survival tips!
- EAT first! This might sound counter-intuitive, but the worst thing you and your kids can do is go to a holiday function too hungry. I used to go hungry with the intent of saving all my calories for that one huge meal, but once I started eating, all self-control went out the window. Also, if you starve yourself throughout the day, your metabolism will slow down to prepare for this famish. Once you start eating, your body will store the calories since your body won’t know when the next meal is coming. I’m not saying to literally eat before you go eat but have sensible meals leading up to it so that you can make decisions about what to eat and what not to eat with a clear head.
- Start the day with a smoothie or juice. I prefer green juices but my kids are fans of smoothies. Regardless of your preference, starting your day with a healthy dose of greens can give your body a blast of the nutrients it needs and will help to cut down cravings later in the day. Check out my Chocolate Banana Smoothie and Berry Delicious Smoothie recipes for some inspiration.
- Drink lots of water throughout the day. Since this is one of the biggest lessons in my book, “Busy Mom’s Cheat Sheet”, you will hear me say this over and over again. Dehydration can actually cause weight gain because our bodies need water to ensure that all our bodily processes are working efficiently. Did you know most cravings are due to dehydration? So before giving into that 2nd piece of cake, drink a glass of water, wait 20 minutes and see if your craving subsides. How much water should you and your kids be drinking? A good busy mom’s cheat sheet metric to help you gauge just how much you should be drinking is to drink ½ oz. to 1 oz. per pound of body weight. So if your child weighs 100 lbs., s/he should drink 50-100 oz. water per day, with the range depending on activity level. Did you know that all water isn’t created equal? Check out my water experiment video and prepare to be shocked!
- Stay away from the buffet table. The closer you are to the food, the more you will indulge. Take what you’ll be eating and then step aside. Focus on socializing and connecting with others to “fill you up”.
- Bring a healthy dish with you. As a guest, you never really know what the options will be and how the food will be prepared. For my picky eaters at home, they usually don’t like most of the food and would come home starving and eat cereal. At least, this way, if you bring a dish, you’ll have something healthy to fill up on and just nibble on some of the other options. Check out my creamy vegan Butternut Squash Soup or Zucchini Pasta for some ideas.
- Exercise before you go. The healthiest thanksgiving meals I’ve had started with a spin class that morning. After sweating on the bike for 50 minutes and knowing how many calories that burns, you are more inclined to think twice before you give in to the gluttony. Getting your kids involved by doing a family hike, or even just walking around the neighborhood with your dog can get the blood flowing and have the same effect.
- Be smart about your drinks. Cut down or eliminate alcohol and soda. I like to indulge in a cocktail or glass of wine at holiday functions. I try to stretch the experience by having white wine spritzers where you have half the amount of wine in each, thereby allowing me a couple drinks that night. In between, I drink seltzer with lemon and/or lime slices. Soda is one of the leading causes of childhood obesity with one 12 oz. soda having as much as 36 grams of sugar, which is 9 teaspoons. We’d rather eat our calories, so soda is the first thing to go from my family’s menu. When my kids want something besides water, I mix seltzer with some fruit juice for an occasional sweet beverage.
- Wait 20 min before taking seconds. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to tell your brain that you are full and satisfied. Eating too fast and not waiting at least 20 minutes after you are done eating will cause you to overeat and then feel overly full when once your body eventually catches up to your mind. Chew your food until it liquefies (I try at least 10 chews per bite) and distract yourself with great conversation. You may not even realize when the 20 minutes is up.
- Don’t get full off main courses if you want dessert. It’s tough not to have dessert and end the meal with something sweet during the holiday season. If you know you are going to want dessert, stop eating your main course when you are still a little hungry so that you have that extra space for that sweet treat.
- Success always starts with a plan. Survey the situation, see what food is available and plan out what you want to eat and drink. If you know you have a lot of holiday events lined up, try to plan ahead. If you know there are certain events that will have a drink or dessert you have to have, try to plan to eat a little smarter the rest of the meal, and in the hours leading up to the event. Tweaking your diet so you can really enjoy your special treat will set you up for success and you won’t feel like you’re missing out in a little holiday indulgence.
It is important that we start teaching our children these tips as we implement them so that they learn these lessons earlier on and can be prepared to tackle the holiday season with their best food forward :-).
Wishing you all a happy holidays and a new year filled with health and happiness!
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