December. It can be such a complicated month of fitting in all the things we want to do as well as all the things we need to do. When time is tight, the first thing to go is usually taking care of our health and ourselves. Sticking to a healthy diet can be complicated this month, especially with the holidays at the end of the month! Food shouldn’t ever make us feel guilty, but if you’re giving up healthy eating from day 1 you can end up with a whole month of unhealthy behaviours to make up for.
But don´t worry, December can be enjoyable and healthy at the same time! Here are some tips to help you have a healthy and happy winter season:
1. Maintain Weight
While it is admirable to desire weight loss, you do not have to make it a priority this month. Rather than stressing and aiming to lose weight, try to maintain weight over the holidays, enjoying the present moment of being with close friends and family.
2. Embrace seasonal foods
Focus on eating ‘seasonably’ this winter. There are SO MANY great foods which are at their best this month and that are so easy to include in the diet. Many of the ingredients you associate with this time of year, such as root vegetables and apples, grow in abundance in and are actually the most sustainable products to buy. Eating fruits and vegetables in season also means that they will be at their peak and therefore more nutrient dense – so get munching!
3. Heat up the kitchen
A simple strategy for eating healthier is to cook at home. But let’s face it: during the holidays, cooking is one of the last things you have time for. One option is to enter meal delivery programs that take care of the hard parts. They prepare the recipe planning, food shopping and ingredient measuring and delivering to your doorstep, leaving time for the fun part – cooking and spending time together! Another option is to follow a 31 day meal plan. With a main and side dish for every day in December, you’ll be able to focus on gift giving and time with the family rather than planning out your next meal. There are plenty of healthy, easy and budget options to find online.
4. Think colour
Make your plate look festive to match your festive spirit. Aim to diversify your meals by adding fruits and veggies with a pop of colour, like pomegranates, cranberries, carrots and pumpkin!
5. Stay hydrated
Winter weather can be rough on skin. Hydrate from the inside out by beginning each day with a full glass of water. If the thought of drinking something cold is unappealing, try starting with hot lemon water. Stay hydrated by drinking one glass of water before every meal.
6. Keep portions handy
If you want a simple strategy for watching your calorie intake this festive season, use your hands. Keep protein to the size of your palm, grains the size of your fist and eat at least two handfuls of leafy greens every day.
7. Think before you drink
The winter season brings about a list of drinks that make us feel warm and cozy but contribute a large amount of sugar. So, try to stick to water and warm teas; enjoy just a serving or two of the special beverages.
Try to avoid drinking too much alcohol. Keep within sensible limits which is no more than 2-3 units a day. Swap a glass of bubbly for a glass of sparkling water. Try alternating alcoholic drinks with water or pure, unsweetened fruit juice. Alternating drinks will lower your intake of calories and can help steer you towards better food choices. Drinking alcohol lowers your ability to “say no” when tempted by poor food choices. Set yourself a rule to have a glass of water between drinks and cap yourself at a certain number of drinks. If you are to drink, opt for lower carbohydrate beverages such as vodka with soda and a squeeze of lime and stay away from the beer and wine.
8. Eat until you are satisfied but not stuffed:
With the many food options you may be faced with, it’s tempting to try a bit of everything until you feel stuffed! Think back to all the times this happened before; it isn’t a pleasant feeling. So, check with your hunger and fullness cues as you eat and practice mindful eating; maybe look over at the buffet and choose the things that you really want to try.
9. It’s about the people, not the food
Remember that this time of year is about being around the people you love and care about, whoever that may be. The food is just an extra bonus!
10. Most importantly, don’t feel guilty:
This time of the year is filled with happiness and thankfulness. Don’t beat yourself up if you overindulge; rather, savor this special meal and just plan for the next meal to be more balanced!