As the air gets colder, and the holiday season approaches, we start to crave warmer and richer foods, and we often spend time baking and cooking for our family and friends. As an American living in Mexico, I have the pleasure of enjoying food traditions from both cultures. In the United States, my family bakes and decorates holiday cookies together and we all look forward to Grandma’s fudge and Mom’s eggnog. In Cabo, my sister and I look forward to Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon, all kinds of tamales, and delicious pozole.
That being said, it’s very easy to go overboard with food and drink this time of year, especially with all of the invitations to holiday parties and posadas. I have heard many people giving themselves a “free pass” for December, with a plan to “get back on track” in the New Year. However, disrupting your normal routine and eating too many rich foods can leave you feeling like a tired and sluggish Grinch by the time Christmas comes. Luckily, there are small and manageable ways to prepare for and recover from this season of merriment and indulgence, so that you don’t fall behind on your health and fitness goals.
*If you are going Christmas shopping… eat before you go so you are less tempted by unhealthy food court offerings. You couldalso bring a snack and then indulge in a holiday coffee while you walk around.
*If you are going to a holiday party… eat before you go so you only eat a dessert or enjoy 1-2 cocktails.
*DON’T skip breakfast in anticipation of a bigger meal later on. It’s important to maintain normal blood sugar levels throughout the day and to avoid feeling starved once you get to the party.
*Get enough sleep and hydrate so you that don’t crave carbs during the day to combat your tiredness.
*Choose the event you would most like to attend every week, so you only eat treats once per week.
*Focus on your favorites! Bypass the dinner roll or the fruit cake you could live without to really enjoy your favorite available food or drink option.
*Sit next to another person with healthy habits so you can support each other’s choices.
*Booze or sweets? Many holiday alcoholic drinks contain as many calories as a dessert option, so think about what you would rather have, instead of choosing both.
*Track what you eat using a food journal so you can see if you have room to splurge when presented with a temptation.
*Make a point to schedule an exercise session on the days that you KNOW you will indulge a little, to help burn the extra calories.
*Make healthy meal planning a priority for most of the week, so that the busy nights can be spent eating out or at parties without a sense of guilt.
*Eat mindfully and ENJOY the indulgences you’ve chosen! Take the time to socialize, eat to savor, and sip slowly to really appreciate this special time of year.
***Happy holidays wherever you are celebrating this year!***