With holiday parties, tempting holiday treats and the cold weather-induced exercise-diminished lives we often lead during the holidays, health and wellness goals often get left by the wayside come December.
While your worries about mass holiday weight gain aren’t likely to be realized – average holiday weight gain is only about one pound per year – much of the time, we don’t lose it. It is certainly important to be aware of your health and nutrition choices during the holidays, but it’s equally important to remember that your body is resilient, and your health is ever-evolving.
That means you can (and should!) enjoy holiday treats, and you can do so with a clear conscience, knowing that the holidays are only temporary. So, while it is your right and duty to enjoy all that makes the holidays the best time of the year, these simple strategies can keep you on your feet until you get back to your usual routine:
Eat A Balanced Snack Before The Party
You know the party tonight is going to have tons to eat and drink. So you should fast all day to make up for future calorie consumption, right? WRONG! Restricting yourself during the day will only make you feel more hungry later and could lead to consuming way more than you would have, had you only stuck to a relatively regular routine during the day.
Offer To Bring A Dish – And Make The Healthy(ish) One
If you’re heading out to a party, it can feel like the Wild Wild West – you don’t know what’s going to be served and definitely can’t count on finding healthy options. Here’s the solution: offer to bring something to the party, and make it good-for-you! That way, the host loves you for helping out, and you love you for guaranteeing there’s at least something healthy to nosh on. It’s a win-win.
Don’t Skip Your Favorites
If your holiday favorites are less-than-flawless from a nutrition perspective, don’t skip them. That’s right – DON’T skip them. You’ll regret it and think about them nonstop if you do. Instead, serve yourself a reasonable portion, and then walk away. There will be more of it at the next party, or at least next year.
Be The Activity Instigator
During the holidays, you might not hit the gym as often as you normally would – especially if you’re hosting guests – but that doesn’t mean you’re destined for sedentary living. It’s easiest to stay active when you’re taking the lead. Suggest active group activities: Go for a walk around the neighborhood! (See the lights! Go sledding! Bring the kids to the park! Walk into town for last-minute gifts! Walk to the store (you know you’ll forget some key ingredient for some staple recipe)! Set up the family football game, if the weather holds!
Cut Your Cocktails
There will be plenty to drink, so no need to guzzle. Try cutting your cocktails with lighter ingredients, which will save you on both calories and alcohol. Mix have a glass of egg nog with half a glass of milk. Try a wine spritzer to spice up your vino – mix half a glass of white wine with club soda and a splash of fruit juice. Most of all, remember – enjoy! The holidays come but once a year.
Kristen Wilk, MS, RDN
Hi! My name is Kristen, and I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist. I’m a contributor to Womensforum, and I also work for Pre Brands. In this and former roles, I’ve worked with a variety of food and beverage companies. Thoughts and opinions presented here are my own.