The holiday season is like a minefield for anyone trying to eat healthy or keep her weight down. As if huge family dinners loaded with everyone’s favorite carbs and fatty fare aren’t enough, it seems everywhere you go someone is pushing cookies, cakes and candies on you. This is probably why losing weight or eating healthier is one of the most common resolutions people make for the new year— but why wait until January? You’ll feel so much better if you get a jump start.
Leave the Leftovers
This year, when your family offers you a doggie bag of the Christmas ham and sweet potato pie, respectfully decline. You’ve had your fun; you don’t need them anymore. Don’t bring home any leftovers that might encourage you to keep the holiday feast going.
Get Rid of Temptation
If you’re the one doing the cooking, make sure your guests walk out with all the leftovers, or bring them to work the next day to offer co-workers a free lunch.
Make December 26th your annual “Clean out the Fridge and Pantry” day. Dump the candy canes, fruit cakes and leftover eggnog. Likewise, empty that candy dish and clean out your treat stash drawer at the office.
Refill the Fridge and Pantry
Take a shopping trip and fill your kitchen with fresh, light, healthy foods for the week. You don’t have to count your calories just yet— but take advantage of that after-holiday phase when you’re burnt out on heavy, elaborate meals and overly-sweet snacks. Spend the week enjoying fresher, simpler options.
Plan to eat lots of salads and low-fat vegetable soups all week. Reduce your meat intake to small portions of lean cuts that are broiled or baked. Avoid processed meats that contain a lot of salts and fillers. Use carbs sparingly, and opt for complex carbs, like oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Sugar free gelatin, light popcorn and fresh fruits make excellent snacking options.
Turn on the Tap
As soon as Christmas is over, help your palate recover from overload— make water your beverage of choice. Aside from helping you wean off the holiday goodies and keeping you full between meals, water helps alleviate bloating. During the holidays, people don’t hold back on things that make food taste better, like salt. Excess salt causes water retention and is probably responsible for a good portion of your holiday weight gain. Drink a lot of water to keep hydrated and flush out your system.
Schedule More Exercise
Take advantage of that lull between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Chances are you put off some exercise during the holiday season, giving priority to everything from writing out Christmas cards to baking cookies.
Don’t flop on the sofa the minute the flurry of holiday activities cease. Keep up the momentum, but channel the energy in a new direction: exercise. Plan an extra session or two at the gym or go on a 20 minute power walk at lunch time each day. If you feel you’ve over-exerted and over-stressed yourself all month, don’t go to the opposite extreme and become lazy the week after Christmas. Get some soothing yoga or tai chi DVDs to keep you moving but help you regain inner calm.
If you’re serious about your commitment to getting in better shape, don’t wait a week after Christmas. Enjoy your holiday, then get right to starting better habits. When you’ve had a small taste of success by New Year’s Day, you’ll be more motivated than ever to stick with it.