It’s that time of year again! The holidays are just around the corner; the time of year we get to spend quality time with family and friends, but it’s also the season we tend to be too busy to maintain our healthy lifestyles – including making room for the gym or for that matter making healthy food. Socializing, eating, shopping and traveling can take precedent over a healthy lifestyle when it comes down to the holidays. If you want to avoid holiday weight gain this season, stick to your diet and evade making another dreaded weight loss resolution come this NYE, try using this healthy holiday guide.
Don’t kid yourself, the chances of you going to a holiday party are most likely inevitable – you’ll no doubt have an office party, a friend’s get-together or a family gathering to attend. Instead of avoiding them all together, here are a few tactics you can use to survive.
Tactic #1: Eat Before Going Out
Eating something healthy before the party can save you from munching down on empty calories later on. Have a high fiber snack, and be sure to eat breakfast that day. Research has shown that those who eat a high protein breakfast tend to eat less, later in the day! At the party, be sure to fill up on low calorie, volume dense food – grab the veggie sticks and forget the bready items. Choose lean proteins, leafy salads, vegetable dishes, and skip over the heavy carbs; you’ll feel lighter, more fulfilled and less guilty. While it’s ok to enjoy some nibbles, try to choose 1 or 2 tasty treats instead of gorging on everything in sight!
Tactic #2: Sip Smartly
Party drinks can be calorie dense, whether you’re opting for a mocktail or a cocktail. Mixers including juice, sodas, or dairy can provide empty calories from sugar and fat; and that’s without the alcohol. Choose low calorie options – diet or light soda or tonic water with a slice of citrus. Limit the number of fancy drinks you have and keep it simple, you can also cut your bevies with soda – opt for half a glass topped with soda water and citrus, instead of a full glass. Drink water in-between your drink of choice to cut down on the amount you drink, it will also help fill you up and cut back on hunger too.
Tactic #3: Stay Social
If you’re situated directly beside the table of food, you won’t be doing yourself any favors – the temptation will be just too much. Get yourself as far away from the food as possible. Avoid mindless eating, and instead of eating consider socializing – work the room. Also, pick your treats – don’t go for every appetizer you lay your eyes on. They maybe small but chances are they’re loaded in calories that will add up fast!
Although most of us have mastered online shopping now, there’s still a good chance of some last minute mall shopping. Walking through the mall, navigating the crowds and using your brain to storm up gift ideas can be challenging at best. If you get hungry and irritable you might find yourself reaching for something less than favorable to eat. Something that is fast, easy and most likely not high on food quality.
Tactic #1: Pack Snacks
Bring some easy, healthy snacks with you. A small pack of nuts – 1 oz is enough calories and fiber to tie you over. You could also bring trail mix made with dried apricots, raisins, raw almonds and pistachios. Avoid the dried fruit with added sugar. Another good option is a protein bar made with natural ingredients, or an energy bar. Opt for items that are around 200 to 300 calories, provide protein, some carbs with fiber and natural fats.
Tactic #2: Avoid Holiday Cheer
By holiday cheer I mean specialty coffees – you know those holiday themed drinks and sweet treats that give you that necessary caffeine and sugar buzz you require to get through the day. They may taste great and bring back some holiday nostalgia, but more often than not they come with added calories and sugar. Stick to the basics, ask for the skinny vanilla latte, with the sugar-free syrup and add a dash of cinnamon on top instead of the full calorie version. You’ll still feel warm and fuzzy with less calories.
Tactic #3: Eat a Proper Meal
If you don’t have time to eat a proper meal before you head to the mall then be sure to find a sit down restaurant that has healthy meal options. Sitting down will let you decompress for a moment from the holiday rush, and make a healthier choice over something quick and easy. If you don’t have time for a full meal, then try finding an option in the food court. Avoid the temptation of fast food combos and opt for a salad, or a whole wheat wrap made with veggies and protein.
Hosting a Meal:
One of the best ways to navigate safely through the holidays is by hosting at least one holiday meal on your own. This puts you in control of the menu, what you’ll eat and how much. However, you might not be the favorite relative for hosting a healthy holiday meal.
Tactic #1: Healthy Swaps
Instead of serving a lot of starchy carbs offer up a table of roast squashes, vegetable dishes and salads. Cut mash potato with cauliflower and sweet potato mash with pumpkin. Avoid stuffing and create a quinoa or wholegrain rice pilaf dish instead. Roast lean meats or poultry that are lower in fat. Skip over heavier meats like lamb. Limit the number of dishes – the more options there are the more likely you’ll want to have some of each.
Tactic #2: Use Smaller Plates
Using smaller plates will force you to put less on your plate and you’ll be more likely to think twice about having seconds. Research suggests that most people eat what’s put on their plates, even if it’s more than they need. Practice portion control – you know that on any other day of the week, you’re more than likely not eating 3 portions of carbs in a single meal, so why start now? You can also use smaller glasses to avoid over pouring on the bubbly!
Tactic #3: Choose Your Indulgences
When it comes to dessert, you can opt for healthier options, made with healthier ingredients but you can also opt for smaller portions. If you managed to serve a healthy meal and not over indulge on too many appetizers, or second portions – now’s the time to give-in. Pick one sweet indulgence, over many. It may also be a good idea to make this the day you have your ‘cheat’ meal for the week.
Keep Up Your Regular Exercise Routine:
If you want to avoid holiday weight gain all together, the best thing you can do for yourself is keep up with the exercise. Your regular exercise routine will ensure you keep a balance between the calories you’re eating and the ones you’re expending.
Tactic #1: Schedule Your Workouts
Chances are you’ll have a clear sight to when you’re holiday parties will take place and to your travel schedule. Plan your workouts around your socializing. If you know you’ll be on a different schedule then what you’re used to then be sure to schedule your workouts accordingly. If you plan to travel, find a gym close by for your workouts.
Tactic #2: Try Something New
Are you traveling somewhere with cold weather this holiday? Consider outdoor activities – a run through the snow, ice skating, snowboarding? You’ll burn calories, enjoy the new challenge and the change in weather! Not feeling so adventurous? Going to a new gym is sometimes just enough excitement to give you some new motivation for your workouts.
Tactic #3: Workout Partner
Stick with people that have the same goals as you. Keep up with your workouts and motivate each other to keep up with your exercise program during the holidays. You’ll be more likely to go to the gym if you’re accountable to someone. A coach or personal trainer can also help keep you on track over the holidays.
Until Next Time,
Be Fierce & Rule the World,