You’ve finally found your groove, you’re eating right, getting your work out on, and feelin’ fly. Just when everything is going your way… It happens, THE HOLIDAY SEASON!!
Pretty much from the week of Thanksgiving until mid-January, you are going to be invited to functions, feasts, fiestas, and festivities. So what does that mean? Food is galore. Not just any food, the richest, most delectable, calorie-containing foods you can find.
So, how do you partake fully in the festivities without getting way off of your regularly scheduled eating program? How do you have fun and still stay “Healthy for the Holidays”?
1. Portion Control
Get all of your favorites but in smaller quantities. When I am at a party, I know I am going to go back for seconds no matter what. If I don’t pile it on the first time, I’m doing minimal damage at best. I was at a party just the other day and my friend served me a sliver of a piece of cake instead of the chunk I am accustomed to. Sure enough, I went back for seconds, but since she had sliced the cake up in sizeable slivers, only on my 3rd trip did I eat the equivalent of one piece of cake.
You can play this trick on yourself when serving up those savory sides, enticing entrees, or those deadly deserts. Another trick is to choose the smallest plate you can find. Even if you pile it on, there is only so much that little plate can hold and your second and third trips to the food spread will equal some people first.
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2. Stay On Your Fitness
No matter what happens, you only eat salads or you commit yourself to a strictly baked macaroni and cheese diet for the next two months, (oh, am I the only one!?) keep on your fitness! Think of your body as a furnace. If you get it fired up every day with a workout, what you consume later in the day will go into that furnace and burn up quicker. You digest better and you keep your metabolism working.
No matter what your food choices are, you will be doing yourself a favor. During the holiday season, there are a lot of marathons, half-marathons, and 5K events. Sign up for one as a way to support your community and get your work out on. If you have family visiting, you all can go on group walks together, have morning fitness sessions in the living room, or initiate a family dance-off as a new holiday tradition.
3. Keep Track Of Your Food Consumption
There are all kinds of online food journals and apps such as MyFitnessPal or MapMyFitness at your disposal. The way these programs work is you enter what you ate plus the nutritional information and it calculates how many calories, fat, and carbs you have consumed.
When you use one of these programs you’re less likely to do the fool if you are going to have to account for it right then and there or later that night. You might go crazy at your first party, but after you get to see what you are putting your body you will most likely think twice at your next event.
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4. Drink A Ton Of Water
This may sound rudimentary but be sure you do it! Water will fill you up leaving less room for the rich and fatty foods to get in (and stay on) your belly! Water consumption also assists in digestion and you are going to need all the help you can get, as you may be consuming foods you normally don’t eat any other time of year. Also, water helps keep your metabolism running full speed which will serve as your damage control for those nights things get deliciously out of control.
5. Dine Before You Dash
Eat your healthy meal or snack at home before the shindig. I used to refrain from eating all day so I could get down on all the good food at the party, but I learned the hard way that is NOT the way to go. If you get in some good greens and protein before you go to your party, you will not be nutritionally deficient and therefore you will naturally be able to keep your party bingeing in order.
6. Be Mindful
Be aware of where you hang out. Don’t strike up a convo conveniently by the chip bowl, because there you will remain, mindlessly shoving chips into your mouth every time you take a breath just because. It’s not worth it. Be mindful of every bite of food you take and savor the moment.
Savor the moment. This brings up another good point. Think about what you eating, chew your food completely, and don’t just wolf it down without even thinking about it. If you’re going to be eating all of these scrumptious foods, pay attention to every bite and savor it!
Go for the food you love. Skip the fillers this year. If you kinda like something, or someone puts it on your plate, don’t eat it just because. Be mindful of what you like…no, love and eat only that! If it’s cheesecake with cherries eat that and skip the pecan pie you only have lukewarm feelings for. If it’s not filling your heart and tummy with happiness don’t eat it.
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7. Don’t Diet & Deprive
This is my advice for people like me. If you’re hardcore and disciplined, I’m happy to hear it, keep to your calorie counter, stay within the lines, and Happy Holidays to you. For the rest of us, I say if you’re on a diet, get off, and if you’re planning on depriving yourself, don’t.
The psychological effects of consciously saying, “I am going to deprive myself so that I can stay fit”, are most likely going to backfire. The time will eventually come when you will want to binge, and during the holidays there is nothing but time and opportunity for that.
The better bet is to take the preventative measures above such as workout, drinking water, and eating healthy before your parties, and then have what you want when you go out and just keep it in moderation. You’ll have much more overall success in the next two months if you allow yourself to indulge moderately instead of depriving yourself completely.
8. Get An Accountability Partner
If you have someone in your life who is really not trying to overdo it this holiday season, you two should team up so you can revel in your collective success together. Studies have shown that if you have to be accountable to someone else you’re chances to follow through go up exponentially.
When you’re alone there is sometimes a feeling of, “no one is watching, what difference does it make”, but when you include another person in your plans you not only have to answer to yourself, you have to answer to someone else.
If you are social or a people pleaser this is a great tactic to use. You can set up games, challenges, and an award system for you both when you accomplish your goals. Have fun with this and be amazed at how much easier it is to stick to your goals when you’re not going it alone.
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9. Have a Plan
You can make this specific or more general but when you, “fail to plan, you plan to fail”. If you want to be on the stringent side of the spectrum you could sign yourself up for a program that offers an exact meal plan. If you need some structure but also want some flexibility you might consider a food delivery service.
On the more lenient side of the spectrum, you can have a general idea of how you’re going to eat, like some people say they will have their plate 1/3 lean meat, 2/3 fruits, and veggies, and allowed one dessert.
Or the most liberal way would be is to say, this week I can only go crazy at one party and the rest of the week I’ll eat 80% vegetables or something like that. The point is if you have an idea of what you want to do, the less likely you are to go completely nuts with your eating.
10. Be Compassionate With Yourself
There is a reason and a season for everything. Tis’ the season to be jolly and celebrate! It won’t last all year, so just be kind to yourself and have fun. Stressing out, negative self-talk, and blaming yourself will do way more damage to your system than a dinner roll (or three) ever could. Treat yourself with compassion and patience and January will be here before you know it!