It's unavoidable--the holiday music playing in all the stores, the coffee shops with their bizarre seasonal spiced drinks, the insane decorations that my local neighbourhood Italian restaurant plasters the place with like they are drowning spaghetti in a tomato sauce made of blinking lights. The holidays are upon us!
Even better, we have culturally-endorsed permission to spend a month eating and drinking ourselves into oblivion. And encouraging everyone around us to do the same by bringing chocolates, cookies, and cakes into work on a daily basis. To go out every night drinking ourselves silly in celebration of the season. To make a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner that includes enough food to feed us solid for 3 days.
I'm not going to pretend that it isn't amazing to set aside all the rules and restrictions we put on ourselves the other 11 months of the year. Not at all! It's incredible to be free of the self-imposed guilt and shame around food that most of us experience.
But I also don't want to ignore how absolutely crap it feels physically and mentally to binge on a nutritional wasteland day-in and day-out during the holidays and what this means for our health when we wake up on January 1st and try to turn our lives back around.
And have you noticed the sad irony? The more we indulge prior to the big day, the less extraordinary that feast becomes, the less we anticipate it, and the more we have to overdo the day itself to make it seem like it's something special.
Don't get me wrong--life is meant for celebrating! But there's a way to do all this, to enjoy the tasty treats, parties, and dinners of the season while still feeling and looking incredible all the way through.
5 Clever Tips to Keep You Feeling Like a Star all Season Long
Balance Your Blood Sugar No Matter What
Avoiding the sugar-insulin rollercoaster is what will keep your energy levels high and help you avoid the seasonal weight gain. By all means, enjoy some treats, but stick to these principles:
Stick to Low-Sugar Alcohol
Alcohol affects blood sugar balance in a similar way to refined carbohydrates, especially if it is mixed with soda or juice! But you can still enjoy alcohol and avoid major disaster:
Choose Your Specific "Celebration Days"
Don't treat the holidays as an excuse to completely ignore the basics of good nutrition and health. If you don't normally indulge in afternoon biscuits at work, don't start now! I can guarantee that it'll end badly. Instead, sit down with your calendar, have a look at your schedule, and decide which specific days will be your 'celebration days." On these days, indulge yourself in holiday treats--while maintaining the 3 principles above. Planning your days this way will give you something to look forward to and anticipate, and these days will be even more fun because you weren't binging every day for the 3 weeks prior. It's like that old warning mums used to give not to ruin your dinner with a snack right before.
Plan a Reward for Yourself
The reality is, you may be going against the flow at times when others around you are binging their holidays away. Decide at the start of a way to reward yourself (preferably not food related) in January for your amazing commitment and focus right now. Think about something that is meaningful to you, that will motivate you and remind you of your goal when that tray of chocolates is being passed round on a Tuesday at 11am. You may have even saved some money by not buying quite so many treats, so what would you like to do with that? How can you show yourself that you really were deserving of the wonderful holiday season you gave yourself? Maybe even something that builds on the success you had with your health goal over the holidays?
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