The holidays are a time to do nothing but lie on the beach, eat tons of food, slow down on exercise, sleep in, get lazy with our diets, and basically undo any of our good work over the past year, right? Well, some might argue with me here. Still, I really believe we can maintain our weight, our fitness, and all our healthful efforts during the holiday season, all while still making lots of time to lie on the beach, get absorbed in several amazing novels, sleep in and enjoy our food, wine, family and best mates.
If you don’t believe me, read on to find out the best ways to make sure you maintain your weight over the holiday period:
Keep up the exercise
Although it’s true you can’t out-train a bad diet, moving our body is not just the way to stay physically fit, but also a wonderful way to boost our mood, improve mental focus and clarity, improve our sleep patterns, lower stress hormones, keep our joints and ligaments flexible and improve posture.
Since it helps our brains stay focused and alert and our mood lifted, you’ll be more easily able to resist certain temptations. You’ll feel good about yourself, which I believe positively influences all our choices. So before you put your gym membership on hold, remember to keep exercise a part of your daily holiday routine. It’s one of the best ways to ensure your body stays fit emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Eat at home for 1-2 meals per day
Holidays mean one thing – not having to eat every meal at home. This is pretty cool when living in Sydney (#theBondibubble), as we have a ton of awesome restaurants and lots of new healthy, seasonal, organic, and paddock-to-plate eateries popping up. The problem with eating most of your meals out of your own home is that you don’t always know what they’ve cooked your food in, and it’s very easy to over-eat. Simply put, how often would you eat entrée, main, dessert, and several glasses of wine if you were eating at home on a regular Tuesday night? I can guess it wouldn’t be very often.
I totally agree with you; going out for breaky or lunch or dinner to an amazing café or restaurant is one of life’s greatest pleasures. As I write this, I’m sitting in a café sipping an amazing coffee and loving life, so I get you. But during this holiday season, aim to eat at least 1-2 of your meals in your own home so that you:
- know what you’ve cooked your food in
- know the quality of your food, and
- have more control over your portion sizes.
Don’t order everything you wouldn’t usually order
Does anyone not like salt and pepper squid or *insert vegan option here*? If you said no, I don’t believe you. It’s ok to enjoy ‘treat’ dishes every once in a while; it’s crucial to maintain long-term health. Everything in moderation, including moderation, right? In saying that, one of the best ways to gain weight over the holiday period is to stop ordering the foods you’d ‘usually’ order when eating out. Your habit of saying no to the bread basket and asking the waiter to switch fries for green beans is good. Keep it.
Don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol
It’s possible you’re hungover while reading this post, so I’ll apologize beforehand, but drinking a lot of alcohol is a surefire way to ensure a little holiday weight gain. Not only is it full of ’empty’ calories, void of any nutrition, the body uses up a lot of B vitamins (specifically B1) and zinc to metabolize alcohol. This leaves you feeling pretty drained and exhausted the next day, which fuels the fire in your belly telling you to order the eggs, bacon, hash brown, banana, and ricotta pancakes with syrup and extra bacon on the side to help your hangover. Top naturopathic tip: the only thing that’ll help a hangover is the time! And St Mary’s Thistle helps too.
The health of our liver determines our overall vitality, so to keep yourself feeling fresh all summer, aim to drink only 2-3 nights of the week, and stick to 1-2 drinks per night. The best options are red wine, vodka, soda, and lime or gin.
Avoid going back for seconds. And thirds
Most of the time, when you go back for seconds, you’re not physically hungry. You’re emotionally hungry. You think, “Yum, that was amazing; I need more!” But are you really hungry?
The best tip I can give you is this: don’t go back for seconds. Just don’t. Even on Christmas day. Be present and mindful when filling up your plate. Eat slowly, chew well, and concentrate on your food, not just the conversation around you. You’ll likely have filled your plate with enough food the first time, so if you want to go back for seconds, stop and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” and listen to the answer. It’s probably a “No,” even if it’s only as quiet as a mouse. The consequence of this will be positive; come to the end of the meal, you’ll be the only person who doesn’t feel so full they feel sick.
Don’t feel guilty after a “bad day” of eating or punish yourself with another huge, salty or sweet meal
Ok, so let’s say you don’t heed the lesson in the tip above, and you go back for seconds and thirds. You wake up the next day and still feel full, heavy, bloated, and tired, and what’s that emotion? Oh. Guilt. Ah, how familiar. What do you feel like doing next? Not eating for most of the day? Staying in bed? Snapping at everyone around you?
Well, actually, the best thing to do here is:
- Be present, and let go of any feelings of guilt, anger, or sadness around your eating habits. Start fresh today.
- Exercise straight away before you can talk yourself out of it.
- Make a really healthy breakfast. Starving yourself now is not the answer. Eat something like poached eggs and veggies or a protein and berry smoothie.
- Be gentle, kind, and considerate of your own feelings. Treat yourself the way you’d treat your best friend if she came to you and told you how guilty and sad she felt for over-eating and “disappointing” herself the day before. Would you shout at her? Slap her in the face? Throw pavlova at her and tell her she’s a fat b*#@%#^? Never, treasure! Be nice to yourself too. You really do deserve it.
Don’t eat when you’re not hungry, and stop when you’re full
This one is simple. Hungry? Eat. Not hungry? Don’t.
I’ll put it another way. Physically hungry? Eat. Emotionally hungry? Don’t. Instead, go for a walk (that’s never worked for me, but some people swear by it). What has worked for me in the past is journalling and getting my life organized, listening to music that makes my heart happy, getting stuck into novels that take me to another place, working out what I’m hungry for (how do you want to feel?), kinesiology and meditating.
Don’t tell yourself this is just what happens this time of year; you’ll be better in January
We all have plenty of excuses for not doing what we know is best for us. However, you can make decisions that will benefit you before the new year. You can put them into action today. Of course, enjoying yourself is important – you’ve had a huge year, and you want to celebrate! I want you to celebrate too. I also want you to remember that you don’t need to be perfect, you don’t need to punish yourself with food, exercise, or lack thereof, and you don’t need to be ‘all or nothing.
The good news
And hey, even if you don’t take on board the tips in this post and do all of the things which will almost certainly make you feel sluggish, grumpy, and tired, the best news ever is that you can get Cleansed and back on track with your eating as soon as the clock hits midnight on 31 December.
Happy holidays, beach-reading & green-juice-drinking.