The average person can expect some changes during the holiday season, especially the Christmas Season, because it lasts about two months. The holiday now runs from October 31st (Halloween) through January 1st (New Years) so there is plenty of opportunities to veer off your wellness path and overdo eating, and skip exercise…but it doesn’t have to be a disaster, in fact, it can be a victory! First of all, you need a plan to navigate through the holiday buffets, the office parties, family gatherings, and that extra piece of pumpkin pie that keeps calling your name.
Here are some tips that I hope will keep you on the wellness path.
- Remember the old saying, ” never go grocery shopping when you are hungry because you will make bad choices.” The same holds true when going to a holiday party, don’t go on an empty stomach. Protein is your best choice,(Fortifeye Protein Isolate or Concentrate is #1) along with some complex carbohydrates. The protein takes longer to digest, so you will stay satisfied longer while feeling full so you will make wiser choices and not head back for a 2nd or 3rd helping. Turkey and cheese on whole wheat bread will do nicely… or some almond butter, or my favorite, sunflower butter on half of a toasted whole grain bagel.
- Skipping meals to save calories can backfire and actually produce the opposite result that you expected. I can see the thought process here, but if I didn’t eat all day, then you invite me to Aunt Nora’s annual holiday extravaganza, I will overindulge and be upset with myself. Here’s the plan…if you know you are eating at the buffet around 6pm, simply eat a lighter breakfast and lunch, and again, a little protein snack in the late afternoon.
- Don’t stand close to the food tables, it’s too tempting to “graze” all evening. Go mingle…
- Always take a break between that first and second helping, let’s say 15 minutes…your stomach (digestive system) needs to catch up with your brain (and your eyes). You don’t need to try everything tonight, and you certainly don’t need a 3rd helping of pecan pie…ask Aunt Nora to fix a “to go” plate, and you can eat it the next day for lunch and dinner…she won’t mind, she does it every year for you.
- If you host a party, give your guests some “lite fare” alternatives, and don’t think a salad will do for those on a calorie restricted or vegan diet…it will not do. You want happy guests, you want them to enjoy, so take some time and give them something special. A party is not the time to introduce your in-laws to vegan style eating, and your new supervisor at the office party (that you were made “food captain” of) may not enjoy your “holiday hummus”, or “Santa’s Surprise Lentil and Three Bean Soup.” Hummus actually makes very good dips, along with some pita chips for dipping…how about a vegan lasagna? Small bottles of flavored water are nice, along with some lemon wedges, sliced cucumbers and strawberries to add more flavor…and please take into consideration that some people are highly sensitive/allergic to nuts, seeds, shellfish, red onions, etc so a little notecard sitting next to the dish describing the dish and its ingredients is very helpful, and a nice touch.
- Alcohol…can derail the best of diet plans for several reasons…mixed drinks are calorie loaded, especially some holiday specials. Consuming alcohol will obviously fog the brain and cause you to make poor food and drink choices. If you choose to drink alcohol, it’s just a no brainer, you can’t drink and drive, and that’s the bottom line. Pace yourself, drink a full glass of spring water in between drinks. Eat solid food to help absorb and distribute the alcohol. If you control your consumption, you won’t need to apologize to your boss, your spouse, police officer or judge. Did I say DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE, if not, DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!
- Try to stay on schedule…yes, take your vitamins and protein drinks, your body needs them. I strongly suggest Fortifeye Super Protein, and Super Food for a delicious smoothie…and of course, FIT-the ultimate muscle fuel is perfect to prepare and recover from your holiday exercise regimen. You might also benefit from Fortifeye Probiotic and Fortifeye Digestive Enzymes to help you through two months of holiday eating. Try to maintain your exercise schedule…if you think you are rushed, just don’t stay at the gym quite as long, but log in a session, you will feel better. Don’t try to do a 90 minute session in 30 minutes, you increase your chances of injury, decreased ROM (Range of Motion), increased DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness…and no one wants to be sore over the holidays).
- Remember to hydrate…this is a major health concern over the holidays. Alcohol, caffeine, stress, weather conditions, etc and cause dehydration, so please keep that in mind.
- OK folks, now it’s up to you…I never give permission to overindulge, but I will say that holidays are for friends, family and fun, so take the time to enjoy every minutes. I always have two lines I say for the holidays…”Give the gift of health for the holidays to someone you love…and Eat, Drink (spring water) and be Merry…and call me on January 2nd!
Happy holidays my friends, be safe!
Dr. Richard Hall PhD, CSNS,CPT