With the holiday season upon us, it can be difficult to keep up with your healthy routines. Free time gets monopolized by family gatherings and parties, and leaves little chance for us to be proactive about our diets. This isn’t all bad; we think that spending time with your loved ones around the holidays is a great tradition that’s worth keeping alive. However, it’s easy to lose control over your healthy living practices when you are accommodating traditions. Here are a few ways to keep a hold on those healthy habits that you have worked so hard to create.
Focus on the fun, not the food: When you are sharing those special moments with family and friends, make sure that the focus of your gatherings is the guests, and not the food. Sure, holiday fare is usually delicious, but the real memories are the interactions with loved ones… not the pie.
Only indulge if it’s worth indulging: Grandma’s special apple cake made from her secret recipe that only gets made once a year? Check. A handful from that bowl of M&Ms? Skip it. Some holiday treats are worth indulging in for their rarity alone (although, be sure to watch your portions), but eating store-bought goodies just because they are there is a slippery slope.
Stock the freezer with pre-prepared healthy meals: With so much to do and so little time, the holidays can be a time crunch for healthy meal preparation. If you make some of these healthy meals in advance and then freeze them, you can break them out between parties with ease. With holiday meals typically so unhealthy, the last thing you need is to eat them all over again as leftovers because you didn’t have time to make something healthier!
Don’t go to the party hungry: Speaking of parties, don’t starve yourself in preparation for that big feast. Your stomach only has so much space in it for food. If it’s empty when you hit the holiday buffet, you’ll fill it up with whatever is available, and what’s available around this time of year is usually pretty unhealthy. Instead, make a healthy meal and eat before you go.
Skip the gravy: Really? You’re going to put gravy on that? Big holiday feasts are full of über flavorful foods and treats. Do you really need one more dose of liquid fat and salt? Skip it.
Make sure that healthy snacks are available: It’s easy to snack all day at big family parties, and that’s not always a bad thing. The trick is to make sure that you aren’t just “snacking” on cookies and candy. Skip the sweets and feel free to hit the kale chips or that raw veggies with hummus dip platter. Hard.
Get outside: Winter weather can be harsh in some places, but most of us have plenty of great options for outdoor activities during the holidays. Don’t just stay in curled up by the fire for days on end. Get outside and go caroling, walk the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights, or cut down your own tree. The bottom line is, when you are outside, you have a tendency to burn a lot more energy than staying inside near the food.
Have a drink: Who can resist a holiday drink? Everyone else is having fun at the party, and you should too, just don’t over-do it. Holidays are great for sharing “a cup of cheer” with your friends and family, but don’t be fooled; booze is still booze, and it’s still not very good for you.
Ask others to take part in your quest for a healthy holiday season: If you are trying to stay healthy during the holidays, you don’t have to go it alone. Many of your friends and family are probably fighting this same battle. Rather than suffering in silence, speak up and tell them that you are trying to keep it healthy. There are probably more people than you think that will appreciate it, and possibly participate, even if only in solidarity.