Adopting Healthy Behaviors and Lifestyle Changes During the Holidays

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Many of us have holiday memories that are near and dear to our hearts. In most cases, we associate these memories with food. If you have a favorite holiday food that may not fit within your diet, it does not necessarily mean that you should cut it out.maintain dont gain

In the Mindful Holiday Eating webinar found here, Dr. Carolyn Dunn explains strategies to help you enjoy the holiday foods you love while staying within your calorie budget. The webinar also gives helpful tips for the holidays regarding holiday parties and lifestyle changes. Below are a few examples.

  1. Plan your Holiday Season
    • Incorporate activities that you or your family love that fit within your schedule.
    • Planning helps to avoid excess stress and tiredness. For examples, learn to say “no”. You do not have to accept every single holiday party invitation.
  2. Determine which foods are “calorie worthy” to you
    • Imagine your food calorie budget like your financial budget. We do not have unlimited money to spend, just like we don’t have unlimited calories to consume, so pick the foods that you enjoy the most and avoid the excess.
    • To determine if something is calorie worthy, decide if it tastes good (is it really good? make sure it’s worth the calories), or if it is packed with nutrients to decide whether to fit it into your calories budget.
    • Let it go if you don’t like it; just because it is on your plate does not mean you should finish it- even if your favorite Aunt Barb prepared the dish. After you take a bite, decide if it’s calorie worthy to continue.
    • Just have one bite- studies show that people who just consumed one bite of a certain food satisfied their craving just as much as the people who ate the entire food item.
  3. Surviving Holiday Parties
    • Determine if this party will be your lunch or dinner and eat beforehand accordingly. If it is going to be your full meal, just have a small healthy snack like an apple beforehand. If it is not going to be your meal, eat something more filling before attending like whole wheat toast with avocado.
    • Remember that the buffet is not necessarily YOUR buffet. The variety and amount of foods on the table is there to provide enough options for guests to be able to find something they like. Zero-in on your favorites and eat those specific foods instead of trying everything.maintain dont gain
    • Position yourself away from the food and drinks. Studies show that the closer you are to the food table, the more likely you are to eat even if you are not hungry.
    • Hold your beverage glass. If you leave your glass sitting on the table, people will often come by and fill it. This lessens your control over how much you are consuming, and you may not be aware of how much you have had by the end of the party.
  4. Sleep- don’t skip it!
    • Sleep is a relative topic during the holidays because lack of sleep increases appetite. In addition to the increased appetite, the fatigue causes a decrease in energy expenditure. So we tend to eat more and move less when we are sleep deprived.
    • Stick with your normal routine and try to get at least 7-8 hours each night.
    • Avoid caffeine late in the afternoon or evening.
    • Limit alcohol or heavy foods late at night.
    • Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary by turning off electronics and maintaining a cool temperature.
  5. Stay Active
    • Time off work during the holidays allows for you to possibly try out a new activity.
    • Physical activity will reduce holiday stress.
    • Activity will burn off the extra holiday calories.
    • Changes in schedules allow you to vary your typical exercise times. Try yoga in the morning or take a long walk around lunch time.

We hope you have the BEST holiday season while also eating smart and moving more!

3 thoughts on “Adopting Healthy Behaviors and Lifestyle Changes During the Holidays

    1. I have heard of a two bite rule; because the best bites are the FIRST bite and the LAST bite. I usually throw a middle bite in just for good measure:)

    2. The one or two bite rule is a good one to try out, just as T said, and it may take some getting used to. But with that one bite, eat it slowly and enjoy all of the flavors. The trick to this is to only serve yourself enough for one (or two) bites, instead of being tempted with a larger portion/whole cookie/piece of cake/ etc. Only have a small amount available will make it easier to remember to slow down and enjoy it. If you try it, chime back in and tell us how it went!

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