Fun, fun – but plan, plan!

Enjoy your fun celebrations and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Tips to implement for the upcoming Big Game and Valentine events.

Special events, holidays and vacations are activities in our lives that we will continue to enjoy, but yet some may feel cursed. Most special activities revolve around lots of food, drink and sitting. Not saying that that is a bad thing, if you only have one special event each year. But in this day and age, celebrations are important to us as well as the food and drink that accompany them. Special events can bring anticipation and stressors like family and friends, different personalities, time management challenges, even excitement. How we handle these celebrations and stressors can be the difference in how we control our decisions. When we’re in control we have a great time, yet still feel accomplished afterward. When our decisions are out of control, we end up feeling guilty about our choices afterwards.

Below are some strategies to help you take control of your celebration environment and your party tendencies to think about ways to make time for a healthier lifestyle during special occasions.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Diabetes Prevention Program:

  • Proper planning can help you maintain your healthy lifestyle during holidays, vacations and special events.
  • Build in ways to eat healthy and be physically active during special occasions.
  • Set realistic expectations for special occasions.
  • Recognize that time is of the biggest barrier to a healthy lifestyle during special occasions. Plan for ways to make time for things that are important to you.

Anticipate the upcoming event by thinking about what foods and drinks will be served. Maybe you can bring a healthy dish to pass or request a healthier option. Plan your fat and calorie intake for the day around the event, but don’t skip any meals. Skipping meals might make you overeat at the event. Think of ways to control your calories such as drinking lots of water and limiting appetizers and desserts.

Can you make physical activity a part of the event? An early morning walk or swim or an evening form of physical activity to complete the fun can help to work off calories and make you feel better overall.

Do you keep track of your calorie and fat intake? This activity really helps with portion control and knowing how many actual calories you eat and drink every day. Keep in mind that fat contains twice as many calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates, so they are very dense and should be limited to no more than 30 percent of your total calories each day. Plan to maintain your current weight especially during the holidays. Michigan State University Extension indicates that trying to lose weight during the holiday season is a great way to set you up for failure. You don’t need to deprive yourself of your favorite foods; you can enjoy a small portion.

If you have a family member or a friend that likes to push food on everyone or is continuously refilling drink glasses, mentally prepare yourself for this. Have a plan on how to handle the situation. Think about all of the problems that could come up. Choose one problem and list all of the ways that you could handle it. What do you need to do to make it happen and how will you handle things that may get in the way? Plan a non-food reward for yourself if you are able to follow your plan.

Enjoy special occasions, vacations and holidays with a plan. Make it a healthy plan that you can achieve. Baby steps to a healthier lifestyle are the key to maintaining that lifestyle. Remember; plan, plan, plan and practice, practice, practice. Practicing small healthy changes creates healthy habits for a lifetime.

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