Wow, its almost Christmas! And yes I have listened to my first Christmas song this day after Thanksgiving as my husband puts up the Christmas lights. I do love Christmas, the lights, the gatherings, the baking, and the giving. But with all that goes on to celebrate the season, we can over do it. There is usually too much shopping for that perfect gift, indulging in too much food, and too many Christmas parties. No wonder many of us feel rundown, tired, stressed out and gain weight !
I am often asked about how to lose weight or eat better during the Christmas Season, especially when we are baking cookies, candies, cakes and sweet breads. I actually think it’s best to really just try to maintain your weight during all these holiday festivities. However, even this can be a dilemma.
So how do we navigate the holidays? There are the usual suggestions like:
1. Try to Make the Healthiest Choices. This means being aware of what you are putting into your mouth. Get that 7-9 servings of fruits and veggies by planning your meals and bringing your lunch to work. By filling your body with good foods you have less room for the other stuff. I like the 90 – 10 rule. If you are eating amazing 90% of the time, the other 10% you can allow yourself those little indulges!
2. Keep Hydrated. Sometimes when we are thirsty we grab for food. Always drink a big glass of water first to make sure your hunger is not coming from being dehydrated.
3. Get your Sleep. Take care of yourself by getting enough rest. The less you sleep, the more weight you can gain. And with all the colds and flu’s this time of year you don’t want to weaken your immune system by not getting enough rest.
4. Keep Exercising. Move your body. Not only does it boost your immune system but if you are trying to keep yourself in shape by exercising, you will sometimes consciously make better food choices.
5. Try to Relax. Take time for yourself. We always try to do too much. Snuggle up on the couch with the family and watch a movie. Take a hot bath and unwind. If you don’t feel rushed, you probably aren’t as stressed and you usually don’t have to fight with stress eating.
There are two things however, that I think we don’t think about.
1. Think for a minute how you feel when you overindulge in food and drink. For most, I’m sure the answer is “Horrible”! I have noticed a common theme with my clients when they are eating really well for a period of time and then they fall off the “wagon” and revert to old eating habits for a few days. I call this a learning curve and assure them its part of the journey when learning to eat better. They feel miserable and feel like they caught a virus or something. They always ask the question: “Did I feel this bad all of the time before I started to eat healthy?” The answer in a nutshell is probably. Our bodies are over adjusting constantly under the stress of bad eating and we do it for so long that we don’t know any other way to feel. It becomes the “norm”. Just knowing how it’s going to make you feel may be the ticket to not do it in the first place. There are a lot of foods I would like to eat, like Christmas cookies and desserts I’m offered at Christmas events, but being gluten free, I know I would feel horrible the next day or in the next few hours. So I just don’t even consider those an option to choose from. But even if you don’t feel it right away like I do, you do eventually. I don’t know about you, but I hate feeling sick, especially around Christmas.
2. Why do we eat so much in the first place during this time? Believe it or not, sugar actually does give us a temporary “high”. In studies, sugar affects the brain like cocaine giving us those feel good feelings we seek when we are feeling low or over stressed. Did you know that exercise and volunteering can evoke the same euphoric feelings that sugar does? When we think of service, we often think of big things like working in a soup kitchen or giving large donations, However, its the small things that can really add up. How about offering a warm smile to someone who looks like they are having a rough day, or holding the door open to someone just because, or how about buying someone a cup of coffee to warm their day. Take each day this holiday season as a day to share random acts of kindness. When we serve others in this way everyday, we serve ourselves and bring joy to our day knowing we are improving the world around us. The feeling we get from serving others will be a much longer lasting euphoria than a sugar cookie!
An important thing to remember is that if you do overindulge, don’t beat yourself up! Take each day or meal as another way to put good food in your body. So if you eat too much or had that second piece of pie, look forward to eating a healthy next meal.
So eat simply and wholly, and if you find you just need more help navigating through the holiday season, contact me for a free consultation at Ask Devi!