Indulge, but don’t bulge! 5 tips to avoid holiday overindulgence

November 1, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,

Cranberry sauce in ceramic saucepan

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes all of that delicious food. The bad news is that those few unwanted pounds gained over the holidays often tend to stick around into the following year. The good news is that it’s possible to enjoy the holidays – and all of your favorite holiday treats and trappings – and still maintain your weight.

“This time of year, it’s a challenge to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Ashley Weigl, associate director of risk reduction services for MHealthy. “However, with a little bit of planning and making self-care a priority, you can enjoy the holidays while staying on a healthy track.”

The following are some helpful tips to keep you — and your waistline — in check:

  • Don’t deprive yourself of seasonal favorites: A number of studies have shown that depriving yourself for an extended period of time only leads to binge eating and overindulgence. So go ahead and have a piece of your kids’ Halloween candy or grab a slice of pie at the next family gathering. Just don’t eat a dozen pieces of candy or the entire pie. Eat the things you want, but make sure you indulge in moderation.
  • Give away your leftovers: You can’t eat what you don’t have! Once you’ve enjoyed a serving of your favorite holiday treat, share with others so you aren’t tempted to go back for seconds or thirds.
  • Don’t skip meals prior to holiday parties: If you do this, you’re setting yourself up to overeat. Instead, eat a small, healthy snack prior to the event so you don’t arrive extremely hungry and you can more easily turn down the apple pie a la mode or resist another serving.
  • Make time to move: Maybe you don’t have time to get to the gym, but there are lots of other ways to burn calories. If you have guests staying with you, move your smaller workout equipment (bands, small hand weights, etc.) into your bedroom so you can sneak in a quick morning workout. Or shed calories while also enjoying what the season has to offer by going for a brisk walk, getting the kids out for a game of tag or a snowball fight or hitting the ski slope.
  • Ease up on Uncle Bob’s eggnog: Is a holiday party on your calendar? This time of year often involves events that include alcohol. Having a plan can help you drink responsibly — or not drink at all. Set a limit on the number of drinks you are going to have, space out your alcohol by having a non-alcoholic drink in between an alcoholic one or bring along a non-alcoholic drink to share.

Got questions or need help staying on the right track through the holidays? MHealthy’s got you covered! The university’s health and well-being program is offering three programs geared toward supporting UMHS employees this holiday season:

  • Health for the Holidays: Skate through the holiday season with this easy and fun, four-week wellness challenge. Each time you record your physical activity, healthy eating or mood online, you accumulate an inch of snow and create a whimsical animated holiday scene. You’ll also have an opportunity to earn an MHealthy winter scarf! Register as an individual or join a team by Nov. 20 and record your health behaviors between Nov. 14 and Dec. 11.
  • MHealthy Holiday Webinar series: Spend 30 minutes with MHealthy experts to get strategies and tips on staying healthy this busy time of year. Registration opens Nov. 7. The interactive sessions will allow you to ask questions and get personalized feedback that will make a difference for you this holiday season.
  • Holiday Drinking Stop & Swap: Want to enjoy a cocktail or two this season but do so responsibly? Sign up to receive handy tips, resources, and alcohol swap challenges each week from the MHealthy Alcohol Management Program. The challenges will encourage you to swap drinking an alcoholic beverage for a healthier activity — such as taking a walk or reading a book in front of the fire. Weekly emails start the Monday before Thanksgiving and continue through just after the New Year. Registration opens Nov. 7.

Next time you see Aunt Jane’s fruit cake or cherry crumble, keep these tips and programs in mind to make sure you have a happy, healthy holiday season!