It is almost Christmas and that means it is the time for festivities. This holiday season is not only for giving presents and gifts but also for enjoying good food shared with families and friends. To most people, Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year because who does not love food, right? Especially when it is shared with the people you love. However, if you are one of those people who are trying to stay fit and healthy all-year, then this season can be such a challenging period for you. 

We totally understand you! Diet and exercise should never be compromised most especially during the holidays. You do not want to really gain again over a few days of different christmas parties all the weight you lost during your cutting phase the past few months. We know that you do not really want to go back to square one after this season. With that, here are some of the things you can do to still maintain your diet and exercise even while going through this holiday season. 

1. Maintain Your Diet

It is not a secret that dieting, no matter what time or season of the year, is just really hard. What more during the Christmas, right? However, if you do not want to have that significant weight gain, especially if you have undergone a cutting phase the past few months, then you should really practice a healthy and proper diet during this joyous month. If you can continue following your strict dieting and be able to still lose some weight during this season, then good for you. But if you are not able to follow your diet program, then you can definitely stick to the kind that maintains your diet – a maintenance diet, of some sort. With that, here are some tips we strongly recommend to your diet in order to help you not gain weight during this holiday:

  • Eat foods high in fiber

It is good to eat high-fiber foods during the Christmas season because they tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods. This means that you are most likely to be satisfied longer so you will tend to eat less throughout the party. Moreover, food rich in fiber takes much longer to eat and they tend to have lower levels of calories compared to other foods that are taken in the same amount of food . High fiber foods include whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas and other legumes, and nuts and seeds. Other refined or processed foods are lower in fiber. These foods include canned fruits and vegetables, pulp-free juices, white breads and pastas, and non-whole-grain cereals. Fiber content of these foods are reduced because the process of refining the grain removes the bran or the outer coat of the grain. Hence, if you can, stay away from these foods during parties and celebrations this season. Make sure to take as much fruits and vegetables as you can so that you will be fuller faster, making you eat significantly less. 

high fiber food
  • Focus on proteins

What is a party with some meat and poultry? Of course, your christmas gathering will surely serve food high in protein. We highly suggest you dive into those types of food! Higher protein foods actually have the capacity to induce the body to produce more appetite-reducing hormones such as GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin. Moreover, it also has the ability to reduce the production of hunger inducing hormone ghrelin. With that, if you focus on eating high protein food during parties, you reduce the hunger hormone and boost satiety to kick in faster. This is one of the reasons why if you want to maintain or lose weight, then you should really replace carbs and fat with protein because it can make you eat lesser calories automatically. In addition to that, studies have shown that a high protein intake boosts metabolism which increases the amount of burned calories in the process. Furthermore, eating plenty of protein can aid in preventing muscle loss when you lose weight. In fact, especially when paired with heavy strength training, it can also help in keeping your metabolic rate high. High protein food you can take during Christmas parties are lean meats which include beef, lamb, pork; poultry which includes chicken and turkey; fish and seafood which include fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams; eggs; and dairy products such as milk, greek yoghurt, and cottage cheese.

protein
  • Skip the sugary food

We know, sweet tooth cravings are real especially during the holidays. No matter how tempting those holiday cookies, cakes, ice cream, pies, and so on, it is much better to skip them not only for you to maintain your weight but also reduce the risk of many health diseases. Added sugars in a number of foods and drinks served during christmas parties are actually high in energy and frequently have few other nutrients. Eating these foods during the festivities can mean that you are eating more calories than what your body actually needs, which then results in weight gain and even obesity. Taking too much food high in added sugars is actually a risk factor for the development of  health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In particular, studies have shown that intaking of too much sugary drinks has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. With that, we know that it is really hard not to take a bite from that cake or pie, but just remember that each bite is actually harmful for you. Of course, you can take a bite or two but always remember to eat it in moderation so try small tastes of the desserts you are truly craving rather than piling up your plate with a lot of different ones. In the end, if you are really craving for a sugar rush, then we suggest you go for sugars that are in its natural state such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

  • Eat healthy fats

Not all fats are bad! You can definitely replace your usual butter and oil with those that have a healthier type of fat. If you do so, you will surely cut down your caloric intake in parties to a much greater degree. Healthy fats are usually found in food such as avocado, dark chocolates, olive oil, nuts, chia seeds, banana, and flax. You can easily incorporate these foods as ingredients to your holiday goods. Healthy fats are good to the body because they are utilized as energy sources. Moreover, they can aid in the absorption of fat solubles vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Healthy fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

  • Cut down the simple carbs

At Christmas parties, soda, baked goods, packaged cookies, white bread and so on are surely served on the table. Who does not love to take a bite from these tasty treats? We would love to indulge also! However, these types of food are usually packed with simple carbohydrates. Just like all other carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates also provide energy. But because they are made up of shorter chains of molecules, they are quicker to digest compared to the complex carbohydrates that are usually found in starchy foods such as corn, potatoes, legumes, and whole grains. Moreover, simple carbohydrates also frequently lack the vital nutrients that the body needs. With that, if you focus on eating these types of carbs during the parties, you will only have a short-lasting source of energy. This will end up for you to eat more food in the end because you feel hungrier faster compared to eating complex carbohydrates.

  • Do not overeat

One of the main reasons why people gain weight over the holidays is because they tend to overeat. We get it, the food is great and all! But it is most important to have self control, especially during Christmas. After all, maintaining or losing one’s weight is greatly dependent on the caloric intake. If you overeat, you take more calories than what your body can use up which then translates into storing it as fat. If you want to maintain your weight, then you should really practice only eating what is enough for you. Sip those desserts if you can and use a small plate so that you can be reminded only to eat a little. It is also important not to skip  breakfast or lunch if you have to attend parties at night because this will technically make you divulge more because of hunger, resulting in overeating. Always eat in moderation in all your meals so that you do not end up too hungry.

2. Do Workout

Working out on regular days is already a hard habit to do. What more if it is done during the holidays, right? We know, working out during the Christmas season is such a challenge, especially when you just want to chill and be all cozy at home. However, you must remember that even if you eat in moderation during the festivities but you have no physical activity, you will probably still end up gaining weight and losing all the effort you have given for your cutting phase all the past few months. Good thing you do not have to lose it just because you want to enjoy the season with your family friends. Either at the gym or at home, here are some exercises you can sneak in between parties and errands this christmas: 

  • High Intensity Interval Training

One of the best exercises you can do during this christmas season is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT can be easily put in between schedules because it only requires a short amount of time but still you are able to get the most out of it. The rules of HIIT are actually really simple: work really hard, rest, then work really hard again. HIIT is actually a cardio session designed as short bursts of very hard work. Increasing the intensity of your cardio to another whole level is the primary point of doing high-intensity training. Some people might think that they are doing HIIT (Example they run for a while and rest) but they are actually not. In order to perform HIIT, you will have to push yourself to the max during every set. HIIT are really short; they are typically approximately done from 30 to 90 seconds. Because of this intense and short training, HIIT is good for losing weight and improving strength and endurance. Moreover, HIIT routines that incorporate the use of body weight or added weight including kettlebells, medicine balls, or dumbbells, also help in toning your muscles while increasing your heart rate. With that, HIIT is effective on multiple fronts and it can definitely help you maintain or even lose some weight during the holidays. 

If you are a beginner at HIIT, you can actually start with a 1:2 ratio of work to rest. So basically, you can go workout for about 30, 60, or 90 on your chosen activity, then rest for twice as long, then after that start again on the next set. You can choose to sprint outside the home, or cycle using your bike or you can even run in the stairs. No matter what activity that is, as long as it is intense, then it is technically considered as HIIT. It takes about 20 to 45 minutes of working and resting to cover one session of a typical HIIT session. It is important to remember not schedule a HIIT session every day of the week. A better approach is to try HIIT three times per week with another two days of moderate cardio. In this way, you do not exhaust yourself too much that might result in negative effects. 

workout for dieting
  • Yoga exercise

Doing Yoga is surely a helpful way for you to maintain your weight during christmas. This type of exercise can be done almost anywhere. With the hundreds of free online classes, you can surely utilize this physical activity at home before going to your planned christmas parties. 

Yoga exercise is a physical activity consisting mainly of postures, frequently linked by flowing sequences, usually accompanied by breathing exercises, and often ending with relaxation lying down or meditation. With that, Yoga usually incorporates breathing exercises, meditation and poses made in order to encourage relaxation and reduce stress. Practicing yoga has been practiced by many because they are believed to come with a number of benefits for both mental and physical health. One of the most important benefits of practicing yoga is that it has been shown to increase mindfulness not only when doing the physical activity, but also in other areas of life. Because of this mindfulness, Yoga was found to cause a reduction in the episodes of binge eating, an increase in physical activity and a small decrease in weight. For those with and without disordered eating behaviors, Yoga, through its benefit in increasing one’s mindfulness, can help in the development of healthy eating habits, which can be very beneficial for you during the christmas season. 

Bottom Line

Christmas is a wonderful time to share stories, laughters, love, and joy with your most treasured people. However, people who are conscious with their diet and physical health might find the season to be very challenging, especially that we intake too much food and drinks that can result in significant weight changes. With that, it is important to still practice a proper and healthy diet paired with regular physical activity. As we share wonderful gifts this season to our loved ones, we hope we never forget that a healthy mind, body, and overall health is still the best personal gift we can give to ourselves. 

References: 

  1. Gillies, G. Bodybuilding. 2020. Beat The Christmas Bulge With Interval Training!. Retrieved from: https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/beat-the-christmas-bulge-with-interval-training.html. Retrieved on 4 December 2020.
  2. McManus, K. Harvard Health. 2019. Yes, you can avoid weight gain over the holidays!. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/yes-you-can-avoid-weight-gain-over-the-holidays-2019112518309. Retrieved on 4 December 2020.
  3. Men’s Health. 2019. If You’re Going To Do a Workout on Christmas Day, Make It This. Retrieved from: https://www.menshealth.com/uk/workouts/g30243713/christmas-day-workout/. Retrieved on 4 December 2020.
  4. Zelmann, K. 2019. WebMD. Don’t Gain Weight During the Holidays. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/dont-gain-weight-during-the-holidays#1. Retrieved on 4 December 2020.