When most of us think of the holiday season we think of friends, family, excessive food/ sweets and increased alcohol. In addition our good exercise habits that we maintain most of the year are sidelined for extra commitments to parties and "seasonal activities"- namely drinking and eating!
But what can we do? Of course we don't want to spend December with our heads in the sand, eating lettuce every day, but there has got to be some balance. Most people are not really going to lose weight or make serious gains over the holidays but how can a person prevent a 10 pound weight gain or setting themselves back so far that January is torturous!
In my experience there are 3 types of holiday people:
1) The Fitness Grinch: "I'm not giving in at all this year", These folks will never miss a workout, never have an extra glass of wine and NEVER, EVER eat a chocolate. This is usually a lofty goal and often results in isolation from friends and family or cheating, resulting guilt and remorse.
2) The January Procrastinator: "I'll take charge of my health/ lose weight/ get healthy in January". Obviously this results in nasty habits, loss of control with regards to diet and exercise as well as a much more difficult New Year than it should be due to an extra 10lbs or sedentary habits that are hard to break. Keep in mind that it only take 21 days to MAKE OR BREAK a habit. Watch for my follow up article on New Years Resolutions.
3) The Balanced Good Cheer: "I will moderate my choices and try to follow them up with a little damage control". Probably the best strategy to make it through the same as you started. It also allows you the chance to have a little fun, join your friends and be laughing in the New Year!
I have put together my 10 favourite things that can help to make your holiday season a more balanced healthier version of itself.
1) Drink water between alcoholic beverages: If you are dehydrated you will drink more alcoholic beverages, trying to quench your thirst which will make you thirstier and on and on.
2) Avoid the cocktails, coolers and beer: Look for lighter coloured liquors and mix them with water or soda water rather than pop. Alcohol calories are extremely dangerous to any healthy eating plan, they are high calorie, sugary, and they reduce our inhibitions with food. Enough said.
3) Skip on the starches and load up on turkey and veggies: Most of the dinners are great healthy-ish food, it's just knowing what to look for. Start with turkey or protein for 1/4 of your plate and then green veggies for most of the rest, small amounts of fats- gravy or butter to finish it off. This leaves you a little wiggle room for dessert.
4) Plan for outdoor activities with family and friends: Get your exercise anywhere you can. Build a snowman, go for a winter walk, go skating or tobogganing, its up to you!
5) Think about your choices: It is all too easy to just toss a chocolate in your mouth at work or a candy cane at the dry cleaners. This is about making the things you do treat yourself to actually worth it rather than just an unconscious habit.
6) Prioritize your food prep and exercise: Failing to plan is planning to fail. If you can leave your house with something in hand you will leave less to chance and will be more likely to eat what you've brought than go for yet another lunch out. If you can keep most of your good habits intact January will be a breeze.
7) Take care of yourself: Don't skimp on sleep or rest and if you start to feel run down, cancel your plans. Not to say that you won't be missed but you will be missed more if you are sick for a week.
8) Get a Holiday Damage Control IV: Additional vitamins, minerals and glutathione to improve your liver function either before or after parties and the additional stress of the holidays.
9) Take your vitamin D: Vitamin D is incredibly important in immune regulation, mood and hormone balance and all of us are deficient, especially in winter.
10) Have fun! Do the things that make you happy and try not to overextend yourself. Spend time with those you love as well as taking some time for yourself.
The holidays can be great fun but can also be stressful and unhealthy. If you feel like you could use some support putting some of these suggestions into practice, have some nagging concerns you would like to address or would like to try a Holiday Damage Control IV, please contact Dr. Katie Coombs, ND at one of her offices:
Westbrook Momentum Health 403-454-1600
Creekside Momentum Health 403-239-6773
Ogden Momentum Health 403-236-0106
Naturopathic visits are often covered by extended health plans, check with your specific plan to see if you have unused benefits that need to be used before January 1.
Frances Wang, ND
A naturopathic doctor and a mother who loves life, the outdoors and exercise.