With the winter holidays now upon us, most of us are starting to make plans with their families, since most gyms are closed and there’s nothing worse than being alone on Christmas.
Spending some quality time with your loved ones is really important but you may need to rethink the old Christmas traditions this year.
This is mainly because most of our traditions revolve around sedentary activities: sitting on the couch the whole day, watching Christmas-themed rom-coms, having lunch and dinner together or enjoying this peaceful time of the year in the coziness of your own home.
Peace and quiet are lovely indeed but they are also dreadful enemies to our diet plans.
Between mid-November and mid-January, it has been shown, that is the period when adults gain on average 0.5 kg.
But you wouldn’t let your long-term efforts go to waste just so you can enjoy the Christmas traditions in the good, old-fashioned way, would you? And we’re here to help with some pieces with advice on how to build your own winter holidays diet.
Whether you need a bit of extra motivation to stick to your diet plans or you’re just looking for specific ways to keep that weight off during the winter holidays – we’re here to help!
Season’s greetings from outside!
Traditions are an important part of our family lives. We wouldn’t give them up for anything in the world, because they strengthen the bond between us and give us a much-needed sense of relief and belonging.
But why not add a spin to them?
Instead of sitting inside, drinking hot chocolate and munch on popcorn, it would be better to mix things up a bit and go for a walk with your loved ones.
Spending some time outside in the cold, fresh air is just as Christmassy as staying in and mindlessly snacking. Who knows- maybe it was about time you had reinvented those family rituals.
Pay close attention to the snacks!
They’re everywhere. Candy canes, cupcakes, muffins, gingerbread and a handful of other sweet and salty bites.
But just because they’re there, it doesn’t mean that you have to lose focus and give in to the temptation.
Try to stay mindful of what and why you’re eating in order to avoid jumping down the slippery slope of emotional eating.
Do this especially if this might have been an issue for you in the past.
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Think about it in terms of calories
It may look delicious. It may taste heavenly. But it surely has a whole lot of calories.
Unfortunately, Christmas specials, be it meals or desserts, don’t come with a label so you can rigorously check your exact calorie intake.
But here you can rely on all the experience you’ve gained throughout your diet: if it’s not something you would eat on a regular basis, put it aside.
Get a taste of it, sure. Have one bite to calm your cravings, but that’s all. Not any step further.
Christmas spirit traditionally associates with oranges, tangerines, apples, and other fruits too. Turn to them instead.
Don’t overstuff your plate
People have the tendency to eat everything we put before them during Christmas break.
Everything just looks so delicious and the calm atmosphere makes you all warm and fuzzy. Don’t let that trick you!
Again, stay mindful of what, when and how much you eat.
Resist the tendency to overstuff your plate because let’s face it: no one is that hungry unless they shoveled snow all day long.
Another big problem for those who happen to be on a diet at this time is how people usually cook Christmas dinner.
Delicious meat with an insane amount of gravy: make sure you drain it before you eat your portion. It’s just empty calories.
Avoid things that are smothered in butter as well. This should come easily if you’re the one cooking for Christmas.
If you’re visiting your parents or your in-laws, it may be useful to warn them beforehand that you want to keep things balanced on holiday.
They may change the recipes a bit for your sake and you’ll all benefit from it.
The general rule still applies: protein is fine, carbs are not that fine
This should be good news for you: there is indeed something that you can enjoy as well during your winter holidays diet. And that’s protein.
It promotes fullness and helps you with weight maintenance. Also is making you look less like an outcast in the eyes of those feasting on the Christmas delicacies.
On the sides, you can opt for the veggies instead of potatoes or other types of carbs that might be available.
Remember that carbs coming from processed food and sugar are absorbed and converted into glucose at a slower rate, hence making you gain weight.
Maintain a good sleeping schedule and keep your emotions under control
Yes, holidays are a time for sharing and giving. But they are also notorious for the small conflicts that escalate quickly and turn into a family drama.
Small life choices or habits become a hot topic of discussion and in no time everybody has his or her provocative opinion.
Keep your mind busy and don’t give in to this petty talk. Don’t stress yourself over minor issues.
Strongly linked to weight gain is cortisol, aka the hormone of stress. It will trigger a whole set of coping mechanisms, with comfort food and emotional eating playing a huge part in these defense strategies.
Doing light exercises, walking around in the cold air and taking some time off to meditate and stay in touch with yourself and your emotions should help during these busy and demanding moments.
Also make sure to get plenty of sleep, because this is what Christmas break is for. Recharge your batteries in order to face the challenges of the new year with renewed forces and energy.
Changes in your circadian rhythm can really mess with your metabolism, so stay safe by sleeping well.
Plan everything and stick to your resolutions
We recommended earlier this year that you keep a log of your training and diet throughout the whole process.
Why not think of the holidays in the same terms?
Planning your activities and meals in detail will help you stay focused on your winter holidays diet plan.
A few points that should be added to this alternative Christmas list:
- not trying out everything your hosts present you with
- limiting liquid calories by avoiding sugary drinks
- skipping the second or third course and realizing exactly when you’ve had enough
- trying to stay as far away as you can from processed food
- limiting the desserts
- sticking to the regular 3-meal-plan (or 3 meals with 2 snacks in-between)
- keeping it low on alcohol (it has calories too, you know)
- bringing a healthy dish to share: lead by example- bring your own goodies to the table and show people how they can serve and enjoy a delicious meal differently
- weighing yourself regularly and make adjustments as you go, if necessary
Holidays should be about us and what matters most to us.
If a healthy lifestyle is what we’re aiming for, this brief momentum shouldn’t be a halt in our journey. But rather a moment to redefine and strengthen our priorities.
It’s easy to lose focus when you’re surrounded by cheerful people and countless temptations, this is why a diet and an activity log are extremely necessary.
They help you visualize your progress, which makes it easier to stick to the process.
Ultimately, Christmas breaks are meant for us to catch our breath and ready ourselves for what awaits us.
It shouldn’t be about mindless eating and taking a break from the healthy habits you worked so hard to form.
Keep that in mind and it should all come more naturally.