December? Already?

Hot Chocolate and Gingerbread Cookie

December? Already?

 

All of us, whether we are trying to lose weight or trying to maintain our current weight, or keeping our blood glucose levels stable, face the challenge of staying on track during the holidays. Even in this unusual 2022 holiday season, there are plenty of distractions and temptations.

How can we enjoy the holidays without losing ground? Today I am sharing a few of my own tricks for enjoying the holidays and not waking up on January 2 feeling sluggish, bloated and vaguely nauseated.

Choose what you will indulge in in advance

Are there certain foods that make it feel like the holidays to you? For me there definitely are! I love an iced sugar cookie (gluten-free) and it would not be Christmas Eve without my grandfather’s version of a Brandy Alexander made with ice cream to sip while putting gifts under the tree.

But rather than gorge on these things all month long, I decide at the beginning of the season which treats I enjoy most. Making this decision before I am faced with the foods themselves, makes it easier to say no to the uninspiring candy cane or extra glass of wine.

Keep your routines in place…except when you don’t

Much like the last idea, I decide in advance when I will break certain routines that help me to keep feeling my best. Getting to bed early and intermittent fasting are keyways in which I manage my own health. I don’t throw these routines out the window from Thanksgiving to New Years.

Instead, I decide that I will stay up late for specific events during the month, but every other day of the month, lights out by 10 p.m. Similarly, I enjoy a homemade gluten-free sticky bun with my coffee on Christmas morning while we open gifts, but the rest of the month I continue with my usual routine of intermittent fasting.

Focus on traditions that don’t rely on food

Reading certain books. Family viewings of favorite movies. Decorating the tree. Acts of Service. Religious ceremonies. All these traditions are a part of the holiday season for many of us. And none of them are focused on food. We can indulge in these traditions again and again without being any guilt.

We can also try some new traditions that get us out of the kitchen and off the sofa. Take an evening walk to look at holiday decorations. Take a family hike, go to the beach (it’s great in cold weather) to enjoy the winter scenery. Volunteer to deliver donations to those less fortunate. All these things can get us moving and feeling the holiday spirit.

Schedule exercise

When our calendars get full, exercise is often the first thing to fall off the list. But exercise is key to keep us feeling our best mentally and physically. To prevent this, I decide each Sunday when I will fit in my workouts during the upcoming week. Then I put them on my calendar like any other commitment. This way, even in December, I get in my usual weekly workouts.

Temper Expectations

Especially important for those who are actively losing weight, is to adjust your expectations for the holiday season. I find we are more successful in the long run if we plan some indulgences into the season. This will often mean weight loss will slow or even stop altogether during this time. That is okay! Given that most people gain during the holiday season, if you maintain your weight, you are still ahead of the game.

With a little planning you can come out of the holiday season feeling as great as you did on Thanksgiving morning and having made some wonderful new memories.

Here’s to Happy Holidays and a Healthy 2023!

Author
Joseph W. Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD Joseph Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD Joseph W. Mathews M.D., a board certified Endocrinologist and Medical Director of Palmetto Endocrinology, was born and raised in South Carolina. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the College of Charleston, Cum Laude. He then achieved his M.D. at the Medical University of South Carolina where he also completed his residency in Internal Medicine and a Fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism. Dr. Mathews is also a Fellow of both the American College of Endocrinology and the American College of Physicians, holds an Endocrine Certification in Neck Ultrasound (ECNU) and is a Certified Clinical Densitometrist (CCD). He has extensive experience performing ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration biopsies. His practice includes a range of specializations including prescribing and fitting patients with insulin pumps. Dr. Mathews' practice has drawn patients from out of state to benefit from his expertise in thyroid disorders, diabetes, cortisol problems and their Endocrine disorders.

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