It’s amazing how quickly the months have flown by. And again, we are at the most festive time of year.
It’s especially wonderful to watch through the eyes of my children. Our 9-year-old has really embraced some of our family traditions and has seemed so engaged in the spirit this year.
Our (almost) 2-year-old is simply mesmerized by all the lights (his term for them: “yites”). Every time we walk out the front door or return home in the evening his reaction is one of amazement and awe, like he’s never seen them before. Oh, that we would all share the same childlike attitude of amazement over the meaning of this special time of year.
Of course with all the fun, comes challenges to stay on track with healthy choices and smart decisions.
There’s no way around it, food is an important part of many holidays, celebrations, family and cultural traditions. And as I’ve said before, many special occasions often center around food (especially in the South where I come from). People struggle with their current weight and especially if they are trying to lose weight.
Maybe it’s all the tempting treats available during the holiday season or the pressure from family, friends, and co-workers to overeat. Maybe it’s the increased emotional eating (whether it be from holiday stress or holiday joy). Maybe it’s the dangerous “New Year” mentality that tells us to indulge all we want now because a new year and a new start is just around the corner.
Regardless of the reasons, it is not necessary to completely avoid holiday food and fun in an attempt to maintain your weight. Just be smart about it.
Focus on weight maintenance—not weight loss—during the holidays.
If you are currently overweight and wanting to drop a significant amount, let’s face it, now isn’t the time to do it. Maintaining your current weight is a big enough challenge for this time of year.
Be physically active every day.
Busy holiday schedules can often get us off track from our fitness and exercise routines. But remember, physical activity of any type can actually help reduce stress, speed up your metabolism and burn extra calories you may have consumed from holiday eating.
Also, turn those last-minute Christmas shopping sprees into a mini-marathon. Don’t search for the closest spot to the store. (And be honest…at this time of year you probably won’t find one.) Park in the far corners and make the walk part of your physical activity.
Be creative in holiday food preparation.
There are plenty of resources out there that show healthy alternative recipes for the season. If you don’t feel so inclined to search for those, just use your head.
There are plenty of low-fat and low-calorie substitutes that are amazingly tasty. Try using applesauce in place of oil in your favorite holiday breads; use egg substitutes in place of whole eggs; try plain nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream.
And remember if you stumble across something especially good, share it with your family and friends. And when you are invited to a party or get-together bring a healthy food as your contribution. That way at least you can be sure there’s something “safe” for you on the spread of choices.
Keep things in perspective.
Overeating on one day or at one party won’t make or break your eating plan. And it certainly won’t make you gain weight! It takes days and days of overeating to gain weight. But if you slip up and overindulge at a holiday meal, put it behind you. Return to your usual (healthy) eating plan the next day without guilt or frustration. It’s life, but it’s not supposed to be a way of life!
Enjoy the real reason for the season. The birth of Christ is the real reason for the season and the reason we celebrate. God has done so much for me in my life that it’s impossible to not simply give him thanks for all He’s done.
Although I am mindful of that each and every day, this time of year seems especially easy to maintain my focus on that. And when you are enjoying your blessings with family and friends and have a heart of gratitude, somehow that extra serving doesn’t seem quite so important.
My wish for each of you is that you will have a very Merry Christmas filled with much love and happiness!