Turtle doves and partridges in pear trees are all well and good, but an even better gift to focus on during the 12 Days of Christmas is how to stick to your diet throughout it all. With parties, cookies, and grandmothers insisting that we haven’t had enough of her heavy (yet soooo delicious) dinner to eat – even after two helpings of everything – it can be difficult to stay on top of a weight control strategy. Nutrition, fitness and sleep all just seem to fly out the window! Not this year!
12 Ways to Stick to Your Diet This Holiday Season
The team here at Intechra Health has come together to assemble a list of the 12 ways to stick to your diet that will have you singing extra loudly and feeling particularly jolly this season. No guilt, pressure, or stress added, so don’t worry about being too busy to fit in these Christmas gifts!
1 – Remember What’s Important
Tradition and enjoyment are definitely important, but so are your health and weight loss goals. Remind yourself of why you want to stick to your diet. Get specific. Not just “I want to lose weight”. Are you trying to achieve a body at a lower risk of diabetes? Dementia? Cancer? Are you looking forward to wearing your favorite pre-pandemic clothes again? Create a clear mental image of why you’re doing this then, when you’re up against a fifth sugar cookie, ask yourself which has higher importance to you.
2 – Don’t Do it Alone
Let friends and family know what you’re up to and get the support of those you know will be there for you. That way, there will be people who will have your back against grandma’s pushy serving spoon and who will also help to keep you accountable for your choices.
3 – Have a Plan
Your calendar app is about to become your best friend when it comes to being able to stick to your diet. Keep track of everything that you’re doing outside of your typical schedule or habit. Then, come up with a plan for what you will eat and when you will exercise, so you’ll never leave choices up to your exhausted, comfort food seeking self!
4 – Manage Your Hunger
Never let yourself get too hungry. It’s easy to go long periods of time without eating when you’re just trying to get everything done. However, this will make you susceptible to overeating. Instead, have prepared snacks each day (whenever you get the chance to make any, make lots and portion them out so they’re ready to grab). Carrot sticks, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes and other similar options make great low-cal snacks that are quick to prepare and easy to munch on whenever you need them.
5 – Eat Your Veggies
Veggies aren’t just great to stick to your diet at snack time. They’re also perfect for making up the bulk of your meals. As much as possible, choose vegetables to fill half your plate. Fill up on those non-starchy vegetables so you won’t find yourself looking to fattier or more sugary dishes to satisfy your hunger.
6 – Contribute to the Meal (A Sly but Giving Way to Stick to Your Diet)
When you’re eating at someone else’s house, you’re not in control of what’s being served. Help out, contribute to the meal, and give yourself an advantage to stick to your diet at the same time by bringing an option that is appropriate for your nutrition goals. For instance, bring a salad or your favorite nutrient-packed veggie dish. You might find that others at the table are also relieved to have an option that will help them stick to their own diets too!
7 – Put the Treats Away
Decorative food storage containers make it easy to think of treats such as cookies and squares as a kind of decoration for your kitchen. However, they’re also filled with a reminder that there are treats to eat! Put them away so you won’t be continually tempted by them.
8 – Choose Your Favorites
There are some seasonal treats we have only at this time of year and that we look forward to eating as soon as the holidays hit. There’s no reason to skip them just because you want to stick to your diet. Instead, prioritize them. Choose your favorites over the ones that just don’t pass the test of being more important than the reason you’re focusing on your nutrition in the first place.
9 – Drink Wisely
Cocktails aren’t good for anyone’s health, but they are often very tasty, nostalgic, and very enjoyable at this time of year. Choose your favorites, stick to the lowest calorie options (champagne or wine, clear liquor mixed with club soda and citrus, light beer, martini straight up, scotch on the rocks), and have a glass of water next to your cocktail. Satisfy your thirst with the water and treat your cocktail in the same way you’d treat a sugar-laden cookie.
10 – Be Physically Active Daily
Prioritize fitness every single day. Go for a walk, do a quick yoga routine, hit the gym, do floorwork or use hand weights in front of the TV while you watch your favorite Christmas movie, hop on the treadmill as you create shopping lists. Whatever it is, do something every day.
11 – Manage Your Stress
Stress is high at this time of year. One of the best ways to stick to your diet is to acknowledge that stress is going to be there, plan for it, and know how you’ll deal with it. The healthier you eat, the better your body and mind will be able to cope with stress. Same goes for sleep, so take a nighttime sleep aid if you’re struggling to get those Zs. Be active every day and take breaks to simply breathe or even to do some quick meditations.
12 – Use a Nutrition Calculator
Think you’re sticking to your diet? Do you really know for sure? Use a free web-based nutrition tracker or app so you’ll know for sure!