Tag Archives: Christmas

10 holiday diet mistakes to avoid

Eat healthy balanced diet during holidaysI am feeling pretty guilty after attending many scrumptious feasts over the Thanksgiving holiday. I ate a little bit of everything and then had some more.

Like many Americans, I am now in panic mode as Christmas and New Year’s approach. These holidays bring more opportunities to overeat and make poor food choices. Not to mention, I will meet up with friends and relatives I don’t see very often, and I want to look my best.

At times like this, many of us turn to diets and less than healthy eating habits in hopes of looking and feeling better by the next round of holiday gatherings.

Here are 10 diet habits you should avoid and tips on what you should do instead:

Skipping breakfast
While skipping breakfast seems like a good way to cut calories, it can sabotage the rest of your day. Eating a healthy, filling breakfast that is high in fiber and protein can help you feel more full throughout the day. Studies show that breakfast can jump-start your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Ignoring food groups
Different diet plans call for avoiding different types of foods. The latest fad may mean leaving out gluten, carbs, meat, dairy, sugar or fats. Yet, we need all of these nutrients for a balanced diet and for our bodies to work properly. Even dairy may help our bodies burn more fat by supplying calcium.

Forgetting about snacks
We often consider snacking a bad habit, but eating healthy, nutritious snacks actually helps  control hunger and aids in weight loss. Snacking on a handful of nuts, a cup of yogurt or some veggies can keep you on track and make those bad choices less appealing.

On the other hand, too much nibbling can be detrimental to your good eating habits. You grab a pastry and iced coffee at the morning meeting. You snack on pretzels at your desk. You finish your child’s chocolate shake. All of these extra calories can add up throughout the day.

Drinking diet sodas
It can be tempting to fill up on diet sodas. The fizzy drinks make you feel full and can taste good, too. Diet sodas may actually be sabotaging your weight loss. It has been found that artificial sweeteners may be linked to weight gain.

The answer: drink more water. Water is essential for burning calories. If you become dehydrated, your metabolism slows down. When you drink eight or more glasses of water a day, you burn more calories.

Starving yourself
When people want to lose weight fast, they tend to think that eating less will get the best results. By drastically reducing your calorie intake, you actually send your body into starvation mode, and it starts storing fat to get you through the lean times. A better approach is to make a modest cut to calorie intake and then maintain that level for a long period of time.

Cutting out the fat
It isn’t so much the fat we eat that causes weight gain as much as it’s the total amount of calories and bad fats that lead to health problems. We need to cut down on the trans and saturated fats found in meat and processed foods. We still need to include good fats in our diets, such as those found in olive oil and fatty foods.

Thinking good calories don’t count
We think because some foods are good for us, we can eat as much as we want. However, you still need to keep your total calorie intake in mind. Just because whole grains, beans, chicken and cheese are good for you, doesn’t mean you should eat 10 tacos in one meal. Even fruits and veggies eaten in excess can be converted to fat.

Leaving out exercise
When we get busy with preparing for the holidays, it may be easier to drop your exercise routine so that you can fit more into your busy days. Yet, if you keep up your exercise routine, you can eat more of the things you enjoy and still lose weight. Exercise can also help you relieve the stress brought on by the hectic holiday season.

Setting unrealistic goals
Deciding you want to lose 30 pounds between now and Christmas is probably unrealistic. You need to set a more realistic goal, such as planning to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. You should also set other goals, such as running a mile without stopping or swimming a certain amount of laps in the pool. You will feel pride and accomplishment without relying solely on weight loss.

Using a diet at all
For the most part, I feel like “diet” is a bit of a four-letter word. Any time you are being deprived of food, you are more likely to fail in your eating habits. It’s more important to change your lifestyle and create a balance among all of the aspects of living a healthy life. You need to make healthy eating, exercising, getting enough sleep and relieving stress into habits that you can live with every day.

How to say NO to holiday stress

holiday stressAs I sit here glaring at the lights on my Christmas tree, I can’t help but think they  shouldn’t be irritating me this much. I have replaced the top string of lights twice this year. Guess what, it’s not working – AGAIN!

I need to wrap presents, clean my house, get my brother’s gift in the mail, bake cookies for school, and address my Christmas cards. Oh wait, first I need to buy Christmas cards.

The holidays are one of the most magical times of the year. It’s a time to gather with friends and family. Memories are made. Traditions are created. We count our blessings and rejoice in the reason for the season.

The holidays can also be one of the most stressful times of the year. We feel obligated to say “yes” to every request and every invitation.

Say “no” to the stress and “yes” to a happy, healthy holiday season:

Keep your healthy routine
It’s easy to drop our healthy eating habits and exercise routines when we become overwhelmed with holiday tasks and commitments. Make it a point to continue eating right. You can indulge in tasty treats while at events and gatherings, but keep up your good habits at home. Find time to exercise. Not only will it help you relieve holiday stress, you will feel good about staying on track.

Shop online
I do almost all of my holiday shopping online after my kids go to bed. You can find good deals and free shipping on most of the items you want. You avoid the stress of malls, crowds and traffic. And it’s so exciting when a delivery shows up at your door!

Give thoughtful gifts
Part of the holiday stress is spending beyond your means or financial budget. Think of gifts you can give that may be less expensive but have more meaning for the recipient. Or, suggest a gift exchange for family members or a group of coworkers. It is the spirit of the season that truly matters, not the material things.

Stay home
If you feel like you are running from one commitment to another, choose a few parties and say no. Spend time at home instead doing something fun as a family. Start a new tradition of having sappy holiday movie night or board game night. You may not remember all of the holiday parties, but you will remember the memories you make as a family.

Get some sleep
When you get enough sleep, your body can rest and be ready for the next day. You will be less sleep deprived and more ready to cope with whatever holiday crises come your way. You will just feel better.

Do something nice
Give your neighbor a hand putting up his lights. Offer to help a stressed-out friend with her holiday cooking or cleaning. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, collect toys for a toy drive, or take homemade goodies to the nursing home. Your generous spirit can brighten the holidays for others in need.

I am constantly reminding myself that these moments are fleeting. My kids will probably tell their kids about the year I couldn’t get the Christmas tree lights to work. They have found it quite humorous. It will make a great story… some day.

It’s the little moments, the memories, and the spirit of the season that make the holidays special. So, say “no” to some of your commitments this year and say “yes” to a relaxing, memorable holiday season.

Is holiday weight gain a myth?

holiday weight gainYou may have heard the statistic that the average American gains 5 to 10 pounds over the holiday season. The truth is that we actually gain closer to 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to an often-cited article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

While this is great news, there is still cause for some concern. The problem is that we are more likely to keep that 1 extra pound of weight, which means we are slowly adding weight over the years.

It is also much harder to stick to our healthy eating and exercise routines during the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years. I know I find myself eating more and exercising less. I am busy shopping for gifts, planning parties, preparing for guests, cooking, cleaning – the list goes on. Then, I am stressed by the to-do list and possibly even losing out on much-needed sleep.

If we only indulged on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, we would probably avoid any weight gain. However, there are many parties and events to attend with more fattening foods. We eat on the go while shopping and running errands. Our exercise routines are pushed to the back-burner to get everything else done.

Here are some tips to help you avoid weight gain during the holidays:

Plan to maintain your current weight
The holiday season is probably not the best time to try to lose weight. It is a reasonable goal to simply plan to maintain your current weight. You can still indulge in small amounts of your favorite goodies at holiday events and parties. Then, keep to your usual eating habits during the rest of the season.

Make it a point to exercise
It is definitely more difficult to stick to your exercise routine with back-to-back holiday parties and family gatherings. So, start a new holiday tradition. Encourage friends and family to take a group walk after dinner. You can admire the fall leaves at Thanksgiving, or make a game of judging the neighbors’ light displays at Christmas. For the more adventurous, you can challenge the kids to a game of tag or hide-n-go-seek. They will be thrilled, and you will all make wonderful holiday memories.

Think about your feelings
For many of us, the holidays can be emotionally trying and can stir up old memories. You may have had unpleasant holiday experiences in the past. Or, you may be missing loved ones who are no longer with you. If you recognize that your feelings and emotions could lead you to overeat, you can be prepared to change this habit. You can start a tradition of everyone telling a happy or funny story from past holidays. You can also take a moment to remember loved ones.

Eat more slowly
By eating more slowly, you can enjoy the company and conversation of those around, and you are more likely to notice that feeling you get when you’re full. In addition, if everyone else is done eating, you are less likely to have the urge to go get more food.

Grab a smaller plate
It may seem silly, but if you use a smaller plate you are less likely to eat too much. First, you will have less room to load up your plate. And, if you go back for seconds, you typically don’t fill your plate as full as the first time. So, in the long run, you will end up eating less.

Just say no
You can say no to the food pushers. My mom is the culprit at our house. It makes her happy to see everyone eat. I know she has spent countless hours in the kitchen preparing the food. So, when she says, “Here, try this,” or “Have some more, there’s plenty of food left,” I feel obligated to eat it. You can say no. Just say you are too full to eat any more right now, but you will try it later. Or, offer to take some food home.

You can maintain your weight during the holidays and enjoy the great food. You will also feel good when you stick to your healthy eating habits. Do you have any tips for staying on track during the holiday season? We would love to hear from you!

For more information about balancing healthy eating, exercise, stress, sleep and good habits – even during the holidays, check out the book A Completely Balanced Life.