Let’s get this out of the way: healthy eating during the holiday season isn’t easy for any of us! Check out some tips to help you and your participants stay on track.
By Diabetes Prevention Support Center Faculty
This time of the year is filled with tempting treats and seasonal delicacies, many of which are not considered “healthy”. As a coach working with individuals who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you may often hear how difficult it is to stay on track during this time. Here are some tips you can share with your group members to stay healthy this season.
#1 Plan ahead.
Heading to a holiday soiree this evening? Eat now. Filling up on healthy foods before you attend a holiday event will help you avoid temptation due to starvation and maintain your highest level of holiday cheer (no one likes a “hangry” party guest!). If you have influence over the menu, suggest or bring healthier versions of holiday favorites and experiment with healthy seasonal ingredients, such as pomegranates and cinnamon. If you choose to drink alcohol, watch your portions – too much can lower your inhibitions, causing you to slip up on your healthy eating plan.
#2 Treat yourself in moderation.
When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, moderation is everything. If you spend the months leading up to the holidays looking forward to Aunt Norma’s pecan pie, have some! Keep your portion in check and compensate by passing on other high carbohydrate/high sugar foods, such as a dinner roll. It’s all about balance: pick and choose when to indulge. If you are in an active weight loss program, one approach is to focus on weight maintenance during the holiday season, rather than weight loss. Many patients find success with this approach, allowing them to enjoy holiday favorites in moderation without the pressure of trying to lose weight this time of year.
#3 Stay active.
Maintaining your physical activity level during the holidays will not only help with weight maintenance, but will decrease stress and increase energy during this busy time of year. Don’t have time to hit the gym? Invite friends and family over for a holiday stroll around the neighborhood to admire the lights and holiday decor. Put the “active” in holiday activities – it might just become a favorite holiday tradition!
#4 Manage stress.
The holiday season is recognized for joyous times with friends and family, but it can be quite stressful too. There can be considerable professional pressures in terms of wrapping up the year in addition to holiday shopping and events. Unmanaged stress can lead to a decreased immune system, weight gain and unhealthy eating and drinking. Be sure to take time to unwind and take care of yourself this time of year.
#5 Experience holiday pleasures.
So much of what we do around the holidays includes eating and drinking – but it doesn’t have to! Instead focus spreading holiday cheer by going caroling, writing holiday cards, listening to music. Enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the holiday season.
What’s your best advice on eating healthy during the holidays? Share your experience in the comments section below.
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