Approaching the holiday season can make many of us a little anxious. Typically, weight gain and stress are associated with these extra-busy months, which are filled with holiday parties, larger-scale meal preparation, gift shopping, traveling, volunteering and a host of other stressful activities. A 2015 Healthline survey reported 90% of individuals surveyed felt some level of holiday stress, citing financial concerns as their biggest stressor.
How can you have a healthy holiday season and reduce stress?
Staying connected to your body through exercise and nourishing food can have a profound effect on your ability to make healthy choices not only during the holidays but year-round. Studies show exercise helps to enhance your brain’s resources for executive functioning like inhibitory control, making it easier for you to resist unhealthy food choices and instead choose healthy options that will further your weight loss/maintenance goals. Making healthy choices now will set you up for a healthy new year.
Holiday Eating Strategies + Lifestyle Tips
- Don’t go to a holiday party/event hungry. Eat a small meal an hour before so you feel satiated before temptation.
- At an event, eat 3 healthy food items before you consume anything else. Green salad, veggie dishes (with no cream), roasted squash, & broth-based soup are good choices.
- Focus on your food. Be mindful of the texture, taste, smell, and source of the food you are eating. Mindless munching can lead to overconsumption of calories.
- Bring your own healthy dish. You will know the ingredients you put in the food and will have something nutritious to stave off hunger.
- 3 feet rule. Stand and converse at least 3 feet away from the buffet table. You are less likely to keep eating from bowls of chips, etc.
- Exercise. Engage yourself in a yoga class, go running, lift weights, meditate or cycle indoor/outdoors. Find something you enjoy doing and get moving! Not only will you burn extra calories, you’ll think more clearly and increase your energy levels.
- Pair up with a friend or family member. Whether healthy food or exercise, keep each other on track! With so many ways of sharing information, you could also create a Facebook group and engage others, who have similar goals.
- Food journaling. Writing down your food intake keeps you mindful of caloric intake.