Pumpkin pie. Hot toddies. Stuffing. Cookies. Cocktails. More than any other time of year, the holidays pose the greatest challenge to our willpower - and our waistlines. But fret not! Try a few of these simple, easy tweaks to enjoy the holidays to the fullest without sabotaging your health.
- Keep it clean: Can't manage to squeeze in your regular week-long juice fast during the holiday frenzy? Not to worry! CAN CAN's founder Teresa Piro recommends a 1-Day Cleanse every week in December to refocus and keep toxins at bay. Giving your body even just one day off can allow its detox systems to catch up & function better.
- Think before you drink: People who drink more than 1-2 alcoholic beverages per day increase their risk of developing cancers, diabetes, heart disease and more. If that's not enough to slow you down, consider this: most forms of alcohol have the caloric equivalent of a scoop of ice cream - and that's before adding mixers! Set a limit for yourself and drink slowly. Savor that champagne! You might also dilute alcohol with club soda or ice.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water throughout the day can curb your appetite. And drinking a glass of water between each holiday cocktail helps your kidneys filter toxins - and prevents hangovers. All the more reason to make water your new favorite holiday beverage.
- Get your greens: Eat a salad before lunch & dinner. This way, you're more likely to fill up on the good stuff - even if you indulge after your salad.
- Adjust your additives: Baking treats for your holiday party? Try halving the sugar in your recipe. Most baked good hold up just fine without the extra sugar and taste just as sweet.
- Gift yourself some exercise: Park at the back of the lot when you go gift shopping, and avoid using a cart to return your bags to the car. It's not much, but the extra exercise may help negate that candy cane you nibbled on at the office today, and fresh oxygen can aid your metabolism & energy.
- Eat before you eat: Headed to a party? Eat before you go. That way, you'll be able to control what you eat and ensure it's healthy. And the more full you are, the more unlikely you are to make bad food choices when you're there. In fact, if you're not hungry, you might not visit the hors d'oeuvres table at all!
- Try the turkey, skip the stuffing: Eating proteins & healthy fats will keep you satiated, whereas refined carbohydrates can leave you hungry for more. Eat eggs for breakfast and you may not even miss Grandma's famous coffee cake.
- Beware holiday beverages: A venti Pumpkin Spice Latte while whole milk from Starbucks has as many calories as a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese! Enough said.
- Re-gift: If you receive a box of chocolates, you don't have to eat them. I'm giving you permission to re-gift them or toss them to the compost bin. It's the thought that counts!
- Indulge - but don't binge. It's OK to have a small treat or a few bites of dessert every day. If you're about to grab something mindlessly, drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes to see if you still want it.
Bottom line? It's the holidays! Don't beat yourself up. Enjoy! Here's to your health!
- Emily Wade Adams, author of natal-nutrition.com