Wow! Where has the time gone? I blinked and October disappeared. Well I am back and wanted to talk today about entering what I call The Most Dangerous Time of the Year for those on a weight loss journey. Why is that? Well, look at the calendar.
In Canada, we have Thanksgiving in October. We all know that often after the big turkey dinner, we feel as stuffed as the turkey, and our calorie consumption was off the charts. “One more piece of pumpkin pie? Don’t mind if I do.”
Then comes Halloween. All that candy every where! We started a habit a few years ago of buying candy to hand out so that we don’t eat the left overs. That works really well until you go in the stores November 1st and see all the half price candy.
Turn the page to November and my American friends have their Thanksgiving. What happens right after that? The push on to Christmas with all the Christmas baking, parties and dinners.
On top of all this, it is darker earlier and the weather is just generally unpleasant (depending on where you live). This means we don’t walk as much or exercise as much and are more prone to long hours of near hibernation.
Then after all that intake and no exercise, we get to hide under layers of winter clothing. So what do you do to survive this time of year?
I have a few suggestions to get you through.
Regarding Thanksgiving dinners (October or November), Christmas dinners and New Years celebrations, moderation is the key. Look over the food and decide which foods you will have and which you will pass. Take the foods you will really enjoy, and maybe only get at this time of year.
Making some swaps can be helpful. For example – if dinner has both mashed potatoes and yams, pick one not both. Try to avoid the gravies and sauces because that’s where the calories hide.
Visualize your plate in sections. Half should be fruits and vegetables, one quarter for starch (like potatoes) and one quarter for mean or meat substitutes for my vegetarian friends. If you really want to curb your appetite, have some Tofurkey. (Just kidding) For more information you can look at the website http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
What about Halloween candy? I would say first of all, do not totally deny yourself. If you keep saying “I can’t have ANY” you will cave in and find yourself at the bottom of a bag of those little candy bars. Some people have found it effective to buy themselves a bag of their favorites and put it in the freezer, and just enjoying one when the temptations really happen.
If it is really a problem for you, if you think you might just sit down and eat the whole bag, then don’t have them in the house at all. That’s why I buy candy I don’t like to hand out.
The Christmas office party or New Year’s party can be a landmine of bad food choices. The same rule applies. Just choose carefully those treats you can really savour. Try not to socialize near the buffet table then you won’t be tempted to graze as you chat.
If it is a party with lots of snack type foods, look them over carefully and try to pick the healthier choices. There are almost always veggie trays available. I am not saying to have rabbit food all night, but nibbling on some veggies can take the edge off.
You can have a small healthy meal at home before going out so you won’t be super hungry and tempted to eat just any old thing.
In all of these situations, you will also run into the well meaning people who will tell you “Oh it’s the holidays, go ahead” or some variation like “Have some more” etc. I find the lost effective is to simply say “I’m fine with this thanks” and leave it at that.
Now how about the darkness and weather?
I suffer to a degree from what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder where I have a problem with the lack of light giving me a lack of energy. Basically all my get up and go, gets up and leaves. I do a few things for this.
I try to get outside every day for whatever sunshine is there. I make myself go to the gym to get my exercise. I may want to curl up in bed with a book and a cup of tea rather than go to the gym but after I do I always feel more energized.
Some people have found Vitamin D helpful but talk to your doctor about that first. Somethings else that’s important is getting enough sleep but not too much. Keep your regular bedtime routine, going to bed at the same time as well as getting up at the same time.
Make your bedroom as restful as possible. First of all, no electronics. No phone, no TV, no computer. I even put a piece of cloth over the display of my clock radio to make it darker.
I read recently that displays that are blue disturb your sleep patterns more than a red display. You can also find some alarm clocks that will let you dim the display.
I like to have my window open a little for fresh air as well.
A little advance preparation and planning goes a long way at this time of year. Just be on the look out for food traps and well meaning hosts and hostesses.
Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!