Staying on the health train through the holidays

Living a healthy lifestyle is no easy task – especially when the holidays roll around. Everywhere you look, extra calories and delicious but fattening foods beg to be consumed.

And it seems the hosts to every party will not take “No” for an answer. So how do you stay strong in the face of culinary temptation?

It’s not easy, but with a few steps it can be done.

The easiest way to control what temptations you’ll face is to bring the festivities to your house. There, you can plan the menu and know every ingredient in every dish. Don’t want to take a stand against pecan pie topped with whipped topping? No problem. It’s your house, your menu, your rules. Simply don’t make it, and you’ll never have to worry about it.

If you have other people bringing foods, let them handle a dish that is difficult to turn into a fattening temptation. Dole out responsibilities for salad, vegetables and bread. This allows friends and family to contribute something besides double-chocolate bars filled with chocolate and topped with chocolate syrup.

Not able to throw a holiday shindig at your place? Then you’ll want to do a little eating before you leave your house. Eat a good-sized snack consisting of healthy foods, such as carrot sticks and peanut butter crackers. These will help you feel full faster and prevent you from overeating at the party.

Once you’re at the party, begin your meal by downing a glass of water. Then instead of diving face first into your plate, sit back and relax for a few minutes.

The holiday season is about being with family and friends, so instead of turning the focus on food, enjoy the people around you. As you eat, take time to sit back and enjoy every bite. After all, many holiday foods aren’t served year round and you rarely get together with such great loved ones, so make the most of it without consuming the most possible calories.

Regardless of what you do to avoid overeating and fighting the urge to fall for temptation, you’ll not get through the holidays unscathed if you’re not mentally prepared for the temptations that will come your way. Well before the holidays descend, you should come up with a game plan.

What will you say when offered a tasty, yet unhealthy treat? How often will you let yourself indulge in holiday cheer, via cookies, cakes and pies? What will you do to ensure you don’t overdo it? How will you react if you do overdo it?

Who will help you stay accountable throughout the season? Having answers to these questions will give you the upper hand when treats are trying to get to you. Being mentally prepared for the temptations sure to come your way will give you the strength to hang tight to your healthy lifestyle.

As important as the foods you’re tempted with is what you choose to drink. While you may not care for cakes and pies, you may be prone to drink down extra calories in the name of good cheer.

Want to keep yourself from drinking your way to calorie overload? Then you’ll need to drink limited amounts of alcohol, punch, and calorie-laden eggnog. Instead, opt for water, hot apple cider, hot tea, and diet soda in moderation. Your mouth will feel refreshed and your belly won’t grow by leaps and bounds.

You can do this! You can make it through the holidays. Don’t ruin all the hard work you have put in through the last 12 months just for a couple of weeks of over indulgence. Make plans, prepare and be ready. Remember, you are worth it!

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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