We have made it through 2020…well almost! The holiday season is around the corner and this year has been a tough one. Many clients reported disruptions in their regular routines and those routines that we usually do with ease can help keep those healthy habits in place! Of course, being stuck at home with bad weather outside in March and April wasn’t helpful for our waistlines.
Many people reported having a decrease in physical activity and munching and snacking more than usual due to an increase in stress from being at home. So now the holiday season is coming, and we may not have ended up where we were wanting to be with our diet, health or weight! Whether you are planning on attending social distancing get-togethers or staying home, here are some ideas on what can you do this pandemic holiday season to get back on track?
Find a daily routine. Try to start scheduling those meals and snacks and plan out what you will be eating. Planning meals and snacks can help us make balanced, healthier choices. At the beginning of the week, check with your family about their schedules and find out what days you will have time to cook. Then plan those breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Don’t forget to include exercise as part of your routine. Treat those exercise sessions like an important appointment.
Avoid drinking your calories. High calorie and sugary drinks can work their way into our diets this time of year. These may include eggnog, apple cider, alcohol and pop, just to name a few. They can have more sugar than a cookie, but we often don’t think of them as dessert. Keep hydrated with water and opt for seltzer water or sparkling water for a special treat.
Assess why you’re eating. Whether out and about or at home, this can be a useful tool. Coworkers may be bringing in those holiday treats at work. Do we really need them? Sure, we eat because we are hungry, but we eat for lots of other reasons too. We may find we eat when we are stressed, bored, happy or sad. We may eat something because everyone else is, or because it is on our plate already. However, anytime we eat for a reason other than hunger, these are likely calories we do not need, and they will end up causing us to gain weight.
Cooking and celebrating at home this year. We may not be cooking for as many family members or friends as usual, so this can be a good opportunity to try healthier recipes and prepare healthier versions of your family favorites. Then we can incorporate the leftovers to make lots of healthy meals for the week ahead!
Eating at a family gathering or friend’s house. When we attend get-togethers, we often don’t have control over what food is being served. If we try to save calories by skipping lunch in anticipation of saving up those calories for dinner, we may overeat at the next meal. Try eating a small, healthy snack before going to the party, such as hummus and vegetables or an apple with low fat string cheese. Once there, look over the food choices and try to find your top 2 or 3 picks. Stick to smaller portions of foods that may be less healthy, like creamy dips, fried foods, sweets and have larger portions of the fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Try to fill half that plate with veggies!
Offer to bring a dish. This way, some of the food will be in your control. You can modify a recipe to make it healthier or bring fresh chopped vegetables with low fat dip, low fat cheese with whole wheat crackers, a salad with dressing on the side, or shrimp cocktail.
Find time for self-care. While the holidays are a fun family time, stress sometimes finds its way into our life around this time as well. As we are overloaded with responsibilities during this time of year, make sure to take time for you. Taking the time for meal planning and prep, good quality sleep, and exercise, can not only help with weight gain, but can hopefully help you enjoy the holidays even more, by helping control your stress levels too!
Kristal Twardy, RDN, CD