The summer holiday season is over in the northern hemisphere; the days are shortening; and the nights getting longer and cooler. While you cling on to any remnant of summer you can find, through the odd warm day, the remaining summer flowers, and the holiday snaps you are now having printed, the remorseless progression into autumn and winter will continue.
For those of you who are overweight or borderline weight, you are now entering the danger zone. Autumn spills into winter and the winter holiday season, and the holiday season brings with it a lure to binge on all the traditional foods of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. So, as your outdoor activity is likely to decline, and your indoor activity likely to include lifting a lot of food and drink to your mouth, but not otherwise increase, it is a period of the year when you will be in danger of tipping your weight over the edge or up the scale.
If you are on, or should be on, a weight loss diet, or are on the brink of needing one, then now is a great time to take stock and plan ahead with fortitude. By being prepared for the diet battle of the Christmas holiday season, it can be a battle you will win with comfort. I do not say ease, because nothing comes easily when it means resisting some of your favourite foods; especially at a time when those around you are overindulging.
Once the summer holiday period is over, you have 3 months to get ready for the winter holiday season. So, what can you do to ensure you do not steadily put on weight during the autumn and then put your weight gain into overdrive from Thanksgiving to New Year? Here is the skeleton of a plan:
Prepare Your Mind For The Onslaught of Gluttony
Put against the perspective of the whole year, keeping to a sensible diet through the holiday season should not seem so difficult. Ask yourself, why on earth should you change so drastically over a few short weeks, especially over the Christmas holiday? Is it not possible to maintain a good diet through the whole of the winter, without spoiling your Christmas? Of course it is.
Much of any potential weakness will come from habit, peer pressure, boredom and stress. All of those things can be dealt with comfortably by a steady programme of meditation and relaxation. Inevitably, you will not be so encouraged into outdoor activities once the days cool down and the nights lengthen. From September, plan a regular yoga session, or other form of relaxation and meditation, that will help strengthen your resolve, and set you apart from peers in terms of individual mental strength. You will slowly assert your individuality in a way that will help you sail through the holiday season without succumbing to external pressures. You will be asserting control, which you can then apply to anything.
During meditation sessions, give regular attention to your diet. Not just your short term diet but long term, beyond Christmas. See yourself happily on a healthy diet all year; not just healthy, but a diet that you enjoy. Your Christmas diet can then just merge into that; the holiday season can be similar to the rest of the year without taking away from your enjoyment.
Get To Know Your Favourite Diet Foods
Being on a diet does not mean all enjoyable foods are out; that is just not so. It will depend of course what sort of diet you are on, but even if you are calorie counting, as the weeks pass you can prepare in your mind, or even on paper, all the treats that are a normal part of Christmas festivities yet very healthy. Here are some that come to mind:
1. That Christmas turkey is not off the menu in most cases; lean white meat is likely to be acceptable. And is turkey not the symbol of Christmas lunch in some countries?
2. All the vegetables that go with the turkey can be delicious if you buy good quality and cook them well. Why not set your mind on organic vegetables only for the holiday season? That may seem an indulgence cost wise, but better to indulge in that than junk foods.
3. Fresh salmon is great for special occasions; how about fresh Scottish salmon delivered to your door. A treat, but one that should not damage your diet.
4. In the months leading up to Christmas, experiment with your own salad dressings, and try different olive oils. Salads with a difference can be healthy but still a treat.
5. Aim to have plenty of fruits around the house during the Christmas period. Want to indulge as it”s Christmas? What about your favourite fruits, something you regard as a treat? Can they not be fitted in to the Christmas spread?
6. There are a variety of nuts which make delightful snacks. In fact, my favourite food of all, and always a Christmas treat in England, is cashew nuts. Are you a cashew addict too? Keep lots of nuts around the home too over the holiday period.
7. As the evenings get darker, try finding some recipes for snacks that are within your calorie range but a little bit different, so they are special for Christmas. Select the best, and have them on hand over the holiday.
Really, there is an enormous amount of scope to make your holiday food a treat for you and those around you, without overflowing the tables with fattening foods. Mix in your mental preparations with the food selection, and over the next couple of months you will have a vision of a non-gluttonous, non-fattening Christmas indulgence. There is no need to indulge in quantity; just in the variety and quality.
Keep Up Summer Activity Levels
Without thinking about it, you have probably been more active physically in the summer months than you would normally be in the winter. Be aware of that fact, and plan regular exercise sessions throughout the winter. Visiting the gym twice a week would be great, but you can also build walking and swimming into your routines. Walking part of the way to and from work, or to the local stores, or taking the dogs on longer walks; all these things can contribute to your weight control, and make you feel better. If you feel better, coupled with your mental strength, keeping your weight down over Christmas will not be as difficult as you might have thought.