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For 11 months of the year we (mostly) watch what we eat and stick to our exercise routine, then the holidays roll around and the wheels fall off. Tempted by wonderful goodies every time you turn around and overloaded by a hectic schedule it’s easy to let your healthy habits slip, overindulge, neglect your workouts and become stressed.

Did you know that tobogganing can burn up to 346 calories an hour?

Here is some advice to take with you during this busy time of year:

  1. Eat a healthy snack before leaving home. This will reduce the risk of overeating at parties and family gatherings.
  2. Savor every bite. Eating slowly doesn’t always work for everyone but some studies have shown that it may reduce your chances of over-eating.
  3. Drink water. Often when you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty, so drink plenty of water before eating.
  4. Serve up some healthy food choices alongside some of those treats. To expand this option, make healthier versions of traditionally high fat foods.
  5. Don’t plan on dieting after the holidays. It’s recommended that you aim to stick to your regular eating habits as much as possible since it can set you up for over-indulging. Most restrictive diets haven’t been proven to work anyway and you run the risk of keeping on the extra weight.
  6. Try not to hang around the buffet table. Get in the spirit of the season – grab a bit of food, then circulate the room and talk to your friends and loved ones.
  7. Keep exercising. To retain the balance of calories in versus calories out, you need to keep your body moving.  Instead of curling up with a hot chocolate and a board game, organize an active family activity – go for a walk, build a snow fort, go skating or check out the local hill for some tobogganing.
  8. Start a fitness tradition. Many offices are starting to organize and participate in Turkey Trots which are fun runs that are usually 5km in length. This means that most people can participate without a lot (or any) training and it can be a great yearly activity to implement.
  9. It’s OK to say “no, thanks”. Practicing moderation will help keep your diet and nutrition goals on track.
  10. Stick to a sleep schedule as much as possible. Lack of sleep has been shown to lead to overeating and weight gain. Not only does it stimulate your appetite in general, it can cause cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods of which there is plenty of at this time of year.

Over-eating is seldom intentional and no one wants to be on a strict diet over the holidays. Find strategies that work for you and if you ‘slip up’ once or twice, don’t be too hard on yourself, just aim to do better the next day.  Fortunately with a little moderation, organization and motivation it can be possible to have a healthy, active holiday season straight through to the New Year!

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. A Dose Theory of Exercise: Overcoming Holiday Overeating. Running & Fitnews. November 2008;26(6):5-6.

2. Martins C, Vallen B. The impact of holiday eating cues on self-regulatory bolstering for dieters and non-dieters. Psychology & Health. September 2014;29(9):999-1013.

3. Secrets to Healthy Holiday Eating. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. November 2013;31(9):1-4.

4. Woolf K. HOLIDAY EATING SURVIVAL. Splash (10998306). November 2008;16(6):12.

5. YU W. GET A GRIP on HOLIDAY EATING. Shape. December 2012;32(4):138-143.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.