Holidays: A Time To Thrive

Thriving During the Holidays

The holiday season and the New Year bring along joy, hope and numerous opportunities to connect with people. Indeed, the joyous atmosphere does come with a few challenges for those trying to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Here are five suggestions to help reshape how you approach the holiday season.

Reset Your Goals and Priorities

You have thrown out the junk from your pantry, increased your physical activity and made new friends at the local farmers’ market which you now visit regularly. And you have finally lost a few pounds – well done! Now it’s time now to reset your goals and try to maintain your current weight through the holiday season and into the New Year. According to the NIH, American adults gain about one pound during the fall and winter seasons, and overweight or obese people may gain more. Shifting your focus from weight loss to weight maintenance will release the pressure that coincides with “weight loss” goals and you will end up feeling relaxed and satisfied.

Rethink Your Strategy

A friend of mine who is in the habit of picking up a latte everyday on her way to work, changes her strategy during the holidays and alternates her lattes with hot tea. Small changes do add up to big rewards. If you feel you don’t have time for regular workouts, just go for a walk or run. The key is to keep some version of your health and fitness plan alive.

Nobody wants to be a social recluse this time of year, yet people often resort to extreme measure like staying away from all holiday gatherings so that they aren’t tempted to eat the delicious (yet, unhealthy) food. Banning all parties or picking a fight with your spouse because he/she brought cupcakes home will only lessen the joy and dampen the spirit of the holiday season for you as well as the people around you. You have to pick your battles!

Here are some suggestions:

  • You don’t have to say yes to all invites, but do attend events organized by people who mean the most to you.
  • Don’t strive to avoid every cookie or slice of cake that comes your way. Deciding to share it with someone, not eating dessert when you eat out or not buying any cookies yourself might be a more realistic goal.
  • Eat a high fiber or high protein snack before you hit the party so that you aren’t totally famished when you reach the venue.
  • At a party or buffet, use the salad or dessert plate for your meal. According to Brian Wansink, author of Slim by Design, a 9- to 10-inch diameter plate will allow you to eat less.
  • If you do end up overindulging at a party, forgive yourself and eat healthfully for the next few days. Also don’t be tempted to bring home leftovers from the party!
  • Remember to get adequate sleep to keep levels of Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) in check. According to a study done by the NIH in 2011, sleep deprivation leads to an increase in the hormone Ghrelin which leads to an increase in appetite.

Reconnect with Family and Friends

Treat the numerous social events as opportunities to reconnect with your well-wishers and loved ones. Shift your focus from food to people and enjoy the joyous atmosphere by catching up with friends and family. Participate in party games or offer to organize games for the guests. Instead of obsessing about avoiding the food, think about giving people the gift of your time and total attention. Smile more, laugh more and be a better listener.

Reinvent Favorite Recipes

If you are the host, or you simply want to enjoy some holiday favorites, go ahead and make a healthier version by swapping ingredients. Choose healthier fats, find alternatives for refined flours and focus on following Traffic Light Eating when revamping your holiday favorites.

Resolve in Advance

Most of us wait for the New Year to start before we make any resolutions for a healthier lifestyle. Why not start sooner? Begin forming new habits or getting back on track a few days before the New Year. Getting a head start will definitely boost your morale and increase your chances of sticking to your new goals.

Srilekha Baliarsingh is a Certified Health Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. As a wife and mom of two kids, healthy living is on the top of her priority list. She enjoys cooking for her family, going for long walks and reading. Her goal is to empower and support people in their journey towards a healthier lifestyle. She believes it can all be done as long as one is ready to take that first baby step.