Holiday season should be all about re-connecting with your loved ones, enjoying the spirit of the holidays and looking forward to the New Year. Instead, many of us feel stressed out by family and social obligations, shorter days and colder weather. As a result, we often indulge in fatty foods and sugary desserts which inevitably lead to cravings, compromised immune system and – the most dreaded of all – weight gain.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. I put together 10 of my favorite strategies that will help you stay healthy and not gain weight during the holidays.
1. Prepare mentally for the holidays and set the goal not to gain weight.
Many people plan to start living healthier on January 1 and think of the holiday season as their last chance to indulge and, as a result, gain weight and compromise their immune system during this time of year.
2. Schedule the time to exercise.
You don’t need to go to the gym to work out. Simply going for a 30-minute walk every day, even during your lunch break, will increase your energy level and lift your mood.
3. Make sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
I find it much harder to drink my 8 glasses of water a day in winter than in summer because I just don’t feel thirsty. It helps me to put a bottle of water on my desk and make sure I drink it until the end of the day. I also like drinking caffeine-free fruit teas.
4. Plan your meals.
Eat 3 low-glycemic meals a day and have 2 to 3 low-glycemic snacks in between your meals. It’s ok to indulge here and there, just make sure that your other meals are healthy, balanced and don’t spike your blood sugar.
5. Do not go to a cocktail party hungry.
Have a healthy, low-glycemic meal beforehand.
6. It’s not only about what you eat but also about what you drink.
Alcohol contributes to weight gain and negatively affects our immune system. Have your favorite drink and then fill your glass with sparkling water with a slice of lemon or, even better, with half a glass of pomegranate or blueberry juice and half a glass of sparkling water so that you have something to sip on. It will also help you avoid any unwanted pressure to drink.
7. Do not starve yourself before going to a holiday dinner.
The idea that you can save the calories for later by not eating all day is totally wrong! If you don’t eat all day your will arrive at the party with low blood sugar and as a result you will eat more and your will eat more of unhealthy food.
8. At a dinner party, always fill up your plate with veggies and greens first and then add your favorite dishes to your plate.
Fiber makes us feel full which helps us not to overdo it with other food.
9. Bring a healthy dish with you.
Check with your hostess first and if it’s ok, bring a dish you know is healthy for you.
10. Hosting a holiday dinner? Make it a healthy one.
Serve nuts, olives, veggies with dips for snacks and any winter fruits for dessert. Make a few healthy salads – try Super Healthy Cabbage Salad and Summer Salad with Feta Cheese (this salad tastes great in winter too :)). Add one or two of your favorite holiday dishes and you’ll have a great holiday menu. Serve pomegranate and/or blueberry juice and sparkling water to drink.