With the December holidays swiftly approaching, now might be the best time to review some helpful ways to keep your diet from derailing. Between the family dinners, office parties, and the endless stream of baked goods, it may be challenging to navigate such treacherous waters. However, remembering a few guidelines should help reduce any anxiety you feel about Christmas cookies and New Year’s Eve libations.
1. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
After all, it IS the holiday season, and if there’s ever a time to practice grace for yourself, it’s now. No matter what diet you are following, try to remember that straying off the path here and shouldn’t send you into a downward spiral of sugar-induced panic.
One of the best ways to do this is portion control – just because you see a delightful cupcake calling your name doesn’t mean that you need to eat seven. Have one and enjoy it, and then continue making smart food choices the rest of the day.
2. Stay Hydrated
Not only is this just good advice year-round, but during the holidays it can save you from overindulging. In addition to helping you feel satiated longer, one study showed that as many as 37% of people confuse their thirst signals for hunger. You might think you should be drinking whenever you feel thirsty, but the truth is that once your body is telling you it’s thirsty, you’re already starting to be dehydrated. Make a point to keep water nearby and drink even when you don’t feel thirsty.
Some symptoms of hunger and thirst are the same, such as headaches, dizziness, and nausea, so it’s essential to consider the last time you ate or drank something. Other symptoms of thirst include increased heart rate, dry eyes, feeling sluggish, and dry skin. Hunger, on the other hand, is usually indicated by the following: empty-feeling or gurgling stomach, irritability, and lack of concentration.
3. Don’t Forget Liquid Calories
When most people worry about their holiday calories, they don’t often consider the drinks. Spiced ciders, eggnog, hot cocoa, coffee, and mulled wine are plentiful this time of year, and those calories can add up quickly. Even if you aren’t on a calorie-restrictive diet, you may find yourself filling up on sweet drinks and becoming dehydrated and unnecessarily snacky.
That’s not to say you need to pass on your favorite holiday beverage, but keep in mind how many you’ve had and say “no” to things that add even more calories like whipped cream, and mixers in your spirits. For example, drinking alcoholic beverages “neat” (without mixers or ice) or sticking to wine instead of mixed drinks can reduce unwanted calories. As always, make water your primary drink to ensure you stay hydrated!
4. Keep Up Your Exercise Routine
It can be difficult with all the holiday activities to stick to your routine if you have one. Exercise is the number one thing you can do to help yourself stay healthy year-round. You don’t need to wait until January 1st to decide to start being more active, either. Your body doesn’t know the difference between a random Wednesday in December and the beginning of the year.
If you do have a routine but are having a hard time finding the time, try just getting 30 minutes of activity to help yourself stay active. Even going for a brisk walk around the neighborhood is enough to keep you moving and prevent you from slipping into a holiday funk. Looking for something calm to quiet the maddening Christmas rush? Try out some gentle yoga to stretch your muscles and clear your head.
5. Plan Ahead
One of the biggest reasons many people fall off the wagon during the holidays is the seemingly never-ending rushing around. Planning ahead and ensuring you incorporate healthy meals into those plans can reduce the number of times you find yourself several hours past having eaten.
Inconsistently skipping meals can lead to binge-eating later when you feel like you’re starving. If you know you’re going to a gathering that will be serving food, plan to eat a small, nutritious meal at least a couple hours beforehand. This will greatly reduce the likelihood that you’ll overeat or eat a lot of empty calories in the form of snacks.
If you are struggling with your weight loss journey or need help getting back on track, give Largo Clinic a call at (727) 517-1500.