Why another post on how to manage diet and exercise over the festive season?
If we have already started to create some healthy habits in our lives, the festive period can be a big trigger for a lapse, when we slip back to our old habits.
Rather than being a one-off occasion like a birthday, it goes for at least six weeks between Thanksgiving and new year. While Australia doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, this period is still full of end of year break ups, lots of socialising and many people take their holidays at this time. Food is also an important part of celebrations in most cultures, so we are often surrounded by yummy high calorie feasts. There is the added worry if you have diabetes of how the different foods are going to affect your diabetes. Is Aunty Martha’s dessert going to send your blood sugars soaring?
There are differing reports on the amount of weight we gain on average over the Christmas period. Some articles mention weight gains of up to 12 pounds (around 5kgs), however research published in 2000 found that the average weight gain was less than a pound.
As someone who can easily gain five pounds in a weekend, this figure was lower than I’d expected. That was the good news.
The bad news is that this weight is not usually lost throughout the year so that each year we gradually get a bit heavier until one day we find ourselves shopping for larger sizes. I was in this position a couple of years ago at around 25 pounds (12 kg) heavier than my current weight.
The following tips will help you combat the usual holiday weight gain and keep your healthy habits on track.
Remember that you don’t have to be perfect at this.
1. Go back to basics. Keep your goal in front of you.
2. Plan. Plan. Plan. Always an important strategy, at this time of year it is vital.
3. Chill. The festive season in contrast to our expectation of it being a beautiful family time can be quite stressful with family tensions, money worries and other pressures. This can be another trigger for a lapse in our healthy habits and contribute to over-eating and drinking to excess. Stress can be a double whammy as it not only increases our blood sugar levels, but can also contribute to poor choices around our food and exercise.
While Christmas is painted with rose coloured glasses, the reality can be very different for many people. Think about how you can put strategies in place to manage these added stresses. The beautiful Mira at www.into the gold.com has some free videos to assist us to really connect with the true spirit of Christmas and create peace in our lives.
4. Increase your exercise. Increasing either duration or intensity can help offset those extra calories. Are there days when you could add in another session? Remember that going for a walk after a meal can also help to lower blood sugar levels.
5. Don’t waste calories on food you don’t really love. Before indulging in food higher in calories just because it is there, think for a moment – do I really want this? Is it worth it?
6. Go for the healthy options. If taking food to a function, can you take a healthier, lower calorie choice? Examples may be a beautiful tossed salad to a barbie or a fresh fruit platter for a dessert. At least you know there is something healthy for you to eat! Rather than being boring, my clients tell me that these dishes are usually the first to go.
7. Watch your alcohol consumption. We often don’t think about the calories in our drinks. Your liver and your waistline will thank you if you can cut this down a bit. Try substituting every second alcoholic drink with a sparkling water or your favourite low calorie alternative for instance. As a girl who enjoys her bubbles, sipping sparkling water from a champagne glass is almost as good and doesn’t go to my head!
It can also be useful to be aware of the calories in our different choices and how much exercise we will need to do to work those calories off! Alcohol can also contribute to poor choices with our food. With some diabetic tablets and insulin, alcohol can contribute to lowering blood sugar levels, putting you at risk of hypoglycaemia. This depends on the type of medication, how many alcoholic drinks you have and the carbohydrate content of the drink. If in doubt, get some advice from your doctor or diabetes educator.
8. Sharing is caring. When you find yourself tempted by a beautiful dessert, are you able to have a smaller portion or share with a friend? Mindful eating can really be useful here. A smaller serve of something we love really savoured provides far more enjoyment than a larger serve eaten mindlessly.
9. Learn. Use each social occasion (and we often have quite a few at this time of year) as a learning curve rather than beating yourself up about what you did or didn’t do. One of the keys to creating healthy habits in our lives is to continually review what happened and look at different strategies that we can put into place.
10. Remember that Christmas is only one day. Susie Burrell, one of Australia’s leading dietitians, suggests keeping the extra chocolate, nuts and Christmas goodies for Christmas day.
11. Ditch the guilt. Enjoy this beautiful time. Be kind to yourself. It IS possible to have a great time and be healthy. And a little of the things we love is what life is all about.
Best wishes to everyone for the most gorgeous Christmas.
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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and Freedigitalphotos.net