Your cupboards are already full of super-sized tins of chocolates for Christmas gifts. You’ve been invited to numerous parties in the first couple of weeks of December. Mince pies and mulled wine are being pressed on you by generous neighbors. And you’re just too busy to exercise.
You might be planning to go on that long-intended diet in January, but do you really want to be starting off with an extra five or ten pounds to lose? Here’s how to make sure you don’t pile on the pounds during December.
1. Avoid the Party Mindset
Many of us let healthy eating go out of the window when we’re on vacation, or when it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. And whilst big holidays should be occasions for enjoying meals with family and friends – not times when we count calories and obsess over every morsel – it’s a good idea to avoid letting that party mindset start too soon.
Enjoy yourself if you’re invited to a Christmas event in early/mid December, but don’t use this as an excuse to stuff yourself with junk food every night. A occasional big meal out won’t have much effect on your waistline, but a month-long binge definitely will.
2. Go Easy On Alcohol
There’s a lot of booze around in December: remember, alcohol will still exist in 2009, and you don’t need to drink it all before then! If you’re being invited to a lot of midweek parties, why not agree to be the designated driver, and stick to the non-alcoholic punch? You’ll be glad you did the next day, when colleagues at work are all complaining about hangovers.
Remember that alcohol contains calories (which don’t fill you up), and often increases your appetite too. If you are drinking, try alternating each alcoholic drink with a glass of water – you’ll be less likely to get drunk, and staying hydrated will help you avoid a hangover the next day.
3. Stick to Basic Healthy Eating Principles
You’ll probably struggle to follow a rigid diet plan during December – buffet meals with big groups of friends, visiting relatives and office parties make it hard to keep up a diet. Instead, focus on core healthy eating principles:
- Drink six – eight glasses of water each day
- Eat at least two pieces of fruit and three servings of veggies
- Only use a little bit of added fats like butter and cream
- Go for wholegrains where possible
It’s also a good idea to eat sensible, regular meals. That means avoiding skipping lunch in order to stuff yourself at a party – and it means making sure that your day doesn’t just become a succession of snacks. If it helps, you might even want to tell yourself that you won’t eat anything between certain times (9am and noon works well, if you’re in the office and there’s boxes of Christmas cookies around – if you can hold off during the morning, you’re less likely to succumb during the afternoon slump.)
4. Get Some Exercise
If you have gym membership, make the most of it during December – as the gym will probably be the quietest it is all year! Exercising really helps if Christmas stress is getting to you: however busy you feel, making time for a brisk half-hour’s walk can really help to quiet your mind and reduce those worries about having to see awkward relatives, or having to buy presents for your extended family.
Staying active not only burns off some of those mince pies and Christmas cookies, it also helps you to keep fit and healthy, and stave off the chances of getting ill over Christmas (a particular danger if you live in the northern hemisphere where the weather is cold).
Do you find that you pack on extra pounds every December? Or do you manage to negotiate parties, festive drinks and Christmas shopping without eating tons of junk? If you’ve got any good tips, share them in the comments…