5 simple tips to limit your ‘holiday indulgence’
Don’t use this festive season to postpone your healthy choices.
With the festive season coming our way, coupled with the stressors from 2020, most people would likely use the holidays as an excuse to postpone their healthy choices, giving up on their current aspirations of becoming fit and healthy, and to use the new year as a fresh start to achieve their health and fitness goals.
However, adopting such an approach would only snowball the difficulty for one to get past the inertia of adopting a healthy, active lifestyle. Instead, take this time to ease yourself into a pre-2021 health and fitness regime this holiday, so that it becomes easier to make it a regular fixture in your life in the coming year.
While it can be challenging to resist the temptations of the holiday festivities and feasts, here are 5 simple tips for how you can put yourself on track to staying lean and healthy this year-end:
- (Healthy) Snacking is encouraged
The number one pitfall that causes overeating during the holiday season is arriving at the gathering with an empty stomach. Even the most determined individual, when hungry, will cave to the temptations of the delectable spread of holiday dishes, sweets and desserts. A simple solution here would be to have a nutritious, balanced snack before you start the feast – which will help you stay energised between meals and also control your hunger at mealtimes, allowing you to eat less. You can even carry high-protein snacks with you, like a handful of unsalted nuts or a protein bar. Hard crunchy foods can also relieve stress by putting tight jaw muscles to work, so try snacking on a handful of almonds, soy nuts or baby carrots.
- Focus on lean protein and vegetables
Many holiday dishes are high in calories but low in the nutrients and vitamins our bodies need. Instead of tackling the carbohydrate-heavy and rice-based dishes, select healthier mains that include lean protein or salads and vegetables. Protein makes meals more satisfying and helps with appetite control over the course of the day while ensuring that you receive your daily requirements of protein needs. Skip the starchy side dishes and double up on your vegetables, which contain fibre and water, adding bulk to your meals and helping to fill you up faster.
- Stay hydrated
To optimise nutrient absorption, ensure that your body is hydrated. Water aids digestion and delivers nutrients to your cells, and gets rid of substances that your body does not want. Fluids other than water, such as coffee and tea, also count towards daily fluid intake, but watch your calories if you are opting for fancy café beverages that can be loaded with fat, sugar and calories. If caffeine keeps you awake, limit your intake to the mornings or switch to decaf coffee or herbal tea to ensure that you get restful sleep.
- Be picky with the sweet treats
Sweets and treats are inevitable around the holidays, and the good news is that you don’t need to cut them out entirely. However, be selective with the treats you indulge in – limit yourself to small servings of the special treats that you only get to eat during the holiday period, and avoid the ‘everyday’ sweets that are less exclusive.
You can also re-think the way you prepare dessert for your family. One way is to cook or bake with fruit – the texture of cooked fruit makes it seem more dessert-like. For instance, roast peaches or pineapple in the oven, or cook sliced apples or plums until tender with spicy-sweet cinnamon or nutmeg. For a healthier alternative to ice-cream, peel and freeze some bananas, then throw them in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Set a pre-New Year’s Resolution to exercise
The holiday season should not be seen as an excuse to postpone your fitness regime. Using the calendar to kickstart your healthy active journey on January 1 is just an excuse. At the end of the day, every little bit you do to stay focused on your fitness before and during the holidays will go a long way as you strive to keep this habit sustainable.
Today, there is now a wide variety of free online workouts available, providing the flexibility to fit in some activities when it is most convenient. Grab a family member to join you in your journey to becoming fitter and healthier – it will provide you with the much-needed motivation to achieve your fitness goals.
Most importantly, starting a fitness and health regime in the midst of the holiday season will get you in the right state of mind as you prepare to wrap up the year. 2020 might have been a challenging year for most, but you can end the year off feeling your best!
Susan Bowerman is a senior director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training, for Herbalife Nutrition.
(** PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash/Jennifer Pallian)