Holidays for most people, tend to be a time of excess and indulgence, and therefore, can be challenging from a health perspective. However disciplined and conscious you may be in your day to day life, healthy eating invariably takes a backseat for this brief period.
And over the years I’ve learnt it is counterproductive to try and keep up with healthy eating and heavy-duty fitness goals at this time. After all, we cannot have our cake and eat it too! This is a time to relax, have fun, unwind and prioritize the family and the community, and it is best to make peace with the fact that by the end of this season a lot of us would be a little heavier. But hopefully, also happier! And the positive thing is that most of this weight gain will reverse naturally once we get back to our normal, more healthy routines.
However, there are a few things I keep in time to make sure I get maximum fun out of my holidays with minimum damage. Mostly because I start to get tired, bloated and physically uncomfortable if I indulge even as much as two days in a row.
So, here’s what I do.
1. Meals: Try and keep at least one meal a day very light & healthy.
For me, it invariably ends up being lunch as everyone eats breakfast together and it’s impractical to try and have light dinners during holidays. So, lunch is a fruit or a soup or a salad. Maybe some nuts if I’m extra hungry. I also include milk, paneer, hummus etc. in my breakfast as protein keeps me full for a long time. I steer clear of cereals, toasts, pancakes as they are delicious but add no value. I’ll be getting a lot of desserts during the meals anyway.
To know more about my food philosophy you can read my blog on Secrets of the perfect diet.
2. Snacking: Stay mindful about what you eat
There is always such an abundance of food during this time and it would be unfair to not partake of all the delicious goodies. Especially when they’re homemade, a lot of love and effort goes into this stuff and we must respect that. But it is also very true that we end up eating a lot of this food mindlessly and just because it is lying there. A good trick to manage this is to never eat while standing or out of a box or straight out of the fridge. If I want to eat mithai or a cake or a pie I will get a plate and a spoon, sit on a sofa and then eat.
3. Timing: Increase the gap between dinner and breakfast
I try and eat my breakfast as late as possible and finish my dinner as early as possible. Even if the party is going on till late, I always have a cut-off in my mind after which I will not eat. Usually 10:30 pm. On a normal day, I finish my dinner at 7 pm. Holiday breakfast is usually 10 am to give myself at least 12 hours of fasting.
4. Alcohol: Be careful of sugary drinks and mixers
I don’t really drink as much. Occasionally, I’ll have a beer. Even if I try really hard I cannot have more than two drinks and then I’m done for the week. So, this is not a problem for me. But on occasions that I do drink I’m very mindful of my mixers. More so because we get a heavy dose of sugar via desserts anyway, adding more of it to my drink would be unwise. I usually stick to plain soda with a slice of lemon. If I have to I’ll a choose diet soda. I don’t think *diet* sodas are bad if I’m having them a handful of times in a year.
5. Exercise: Keep it short and simple
I’ll be honest, I have zero expectations from myself during holidays. If I wake up on time and have the motivation to move here are my staples:
- 12 Sun Salutations
- 10 Min workout off the internet
I always start with sun salutations and they always energize me enough to do a little more work. Which I often follow-up with any led class from any of the myriad YouTube fitness accounts. It really doesn’t take a lot of will power or time to get through a short video. And I feel really good afterwards at having done something at least.
6. Steps: Increase your step count target by 30%
My daily step count target is higher during holidays as there are a lot of opportunities to move and walk around. Even if it means walking around in the hotel room. While normally I try to clock 8000 steps, during holidays I like to be around 10,000 to 12,000. And I try to meet my target by moving frequently throughout the day instead of going for one super long walk.
7. Warm water: To support your digestive system.
I start my day with a tall glass of warm water and continue to drinks lots of warm water through the day as well. Except when exercising or sitting in the sun. I’m not a green tea drinker but during the holidays I will have a cup daily. Warm water itself can become tiresome so I like to add different herbs to enhance the flavour. And If I can’t find any herbal mixes where I am I will simply add a slice of lemon to warm water and sip on that. Ayurvedic Triphala tea is a great inclusion at this time.
Warm water not only helps with digestion it is also very effective in reducing congestion, improving circulation, and it also has a calming effect. To read more drinking warm water is healthy for you, visit this link: Health Benefits of Drinking hot water
And that’s about it. This is what works for me and you can always identify tricks and methods that may appeal more for you. Remember it is the simple things that make the maximum impact.
On that note, here’s wishing everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year 2020!