Pancake day. Easter. Thanksgiving. Halloween. Christmas. Seems like the year is full of holidays based around eating, drinking and making merry. Fun, definitely, but such events can play havoc with our waist-lines. Luckily, it is possible to enjoy the holidays without going up a belt size. Just remember a few basic rules, and you’ll be able to have fun and stay thin.
1. Buy less, but make it better.
Expensive chocolate comes in smaller packets, tastes nicer, and will satisfy you quicker than the bulk-buy alternative. Avoid the high-sugar, refined corn-syrup Easter eggs and Halloween candy. Instead, choose a dark, sensual chocolate with nuts or ginger in it for the taste sensation. Indulge yourself with a real treat, and you won’t feel the need to gorge on cheap, sugary fillers.
Free-range or organic high-quality meat will have less fat, more vitamins, and tastes richer that the water pumped cheap version. Having less doesn’t mean going hungry – spend some time on the side dishes, and try some new vegetables or new ways of cooking them. It’s amazing how nice carrots or asparagus can taste when cooked with just the right seasonings.
Try a different cut, or just buy less – a turkey crown instead of a whole turkey, or switch it out for a chicken. Instead if making the meat the centre-point, create a smorgasbord of delicious alternatives – look online for inspiration, or to your vegetarian friends.
Sometimes, traditional treats are the best. An orange and some nuts in a stocking are festive without being fattening. Savoury crepes make a great alternative to syrupy pancakes. Don’t eat a salad and feel deprived – you’re much more likely to go overboard later. Instead, find creative and inventive ways of cooking up healthy foods that taste great.
Enjoy the fact you’re feeding your family food they love – that’s also keeping them healthy.
2. Decide which parties to attend carefully
Holidays are about spending time with the people that matter. Office parties, friends’ parties, new year parties, fancy dress parties – all provide tempting opportunities to drink too much, eat too much fatty food, and let our bodies pay the price for over-indulgence. Instead, figure out who is actually important to you, and who you really enjoy spending time with.
Ruthlessly chop any social invites that you feel will be a bit boring, or that you ‘should’ attend. Don’t let yourself be pressurised into attending that one ‘unmissable’ night out – there will be plenty more, and you won’t regret the sticky hangover and fuzzy memories.
If you must make an appearance – decide on your rules beforehand. Eat a filling but healthy meal, avoid the buffets and stick to water or juice. Plead other engagements and duck out early.
On the other hand – make the most of your time with the people you love. Take the kids out to a park, or to the zoo. Spend a day hiking with your friends. Go camping. There’s no reason why social festivities have to revolve around food and drink.
3. Have ‘healthy days’
The day after a big meal, or some indulgence, return to a vegetable and fruit based diet. It is very easy to feel that once we have broken our diet that there’s no point continuing with it.
One day won’t make a big difference if you eat healthily the other six. Equally, if you know you are going to have a big turkey dinner, start the day with oatmeal for breakfast and salad for lunch. By making all your other meals healthy, you can treat yourself on family occasions guilt free.Fun in moderation is fine – and it’s okay to cheat now and then.
4. Exercise regularly
If you’re on vacation, take the extra time to beef up your workout or go for a long swim. Take the kids for a walk, or teach them a new sport, like tennis. Swimming, hiking, hang-gliding, or just a day at a theme-park are all much more memorable experiences than sitting in front of the television with a bowl of popcorn and a six-pack.
Do something you’ve always wanted to do, and enjoy the feeling of energy and pride that comes afterwards!
5. Remember what holidays are all about
The best part of Thanksgiving and Christmas isn’t getting drunk and eating so much it makes us sick. It’s spending time with our families and loved ones, having time off work to de-stress, and remembering to be grateful for all the wonderful things we have in our lives. Play with your children, make time for your spouse, visit your parents. Fill your time with so much fun you won’t need to start picking at chocolate and candy!