What makes it so hard for us to stay on track with our healthy habits during the holidays?
It can be a very stressful time. You’re hosting the holidays this year or maybe you’re traveling with the entire family. You have to run out last minute to get that one certain pair of boots for your niece but oh, wait, you also are responsible for cooking the entire family dinner. On top of that, you’re making a LOT of decisions about food. There’s a pie lurking around every corner! Naturally, weight gain is very common this time of year, making it troublesome to stick to your healthy routine.
So how do you navigate the mountains of mashed potatoes and rivers of gravy? Follow these 7 dietitian backed tips:
- Set realistic goals. Rather than trying to lose weight, focus on realistic goals such as weight maintenance throughout the holidays.
- Make a plan. You’ve known about the holidays all year long (and every year prior)…this isn’t anything new. Continue to eat balanced, portion controlled meals comprised of high quality ingredients all the way up to the day of the feast, and continue this on the day of your holiday event. Additionally, on the day of:
- Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals the day of the event actually leads to over-eating later in the day.
- Have a snack before the party to help curb your appetite. Slight satiety will shrink the size of your eyes and your stomach before you’re surrounded by temples of turkey.
- Know your portions. You can still enjoy your favorite holiday foods, but you don’t need to over-eat them. That pumpkin pie is going to look good…real good. So good that you might want to have two pieces. But remember, if you eat double the serving size of pumpkin pie, you’re getting double the calories, sugar, fat…everything.
- Be mindful. Rather than inhaling turkey and stuffing, really think about what you’re putting into your body. Use all your senses to experience the flavor of each dish, the texture, and all the love that went into preparing this wonderful feast. Really take time to enjoy, appreciate, and taste your food. Then listen to your body; it will tell you when you are full so be sure to listen.
- Out of sight, out of mind. If you know food will be sitting out, don’t sit around it. You can only have so much willpower when the pecan pie is sitting right under your nose! If you can’t avoid the food altogether, bring a healthy appetizer such as veggies – something you can munch on. To take this a step further, don’t bring home leftovers of unhealthy food and eat them throughout the week. If it’s in your home, you are very likely to eat it–enjoy it while you have it that day and that day only.
- Stay positive. Don’t beat yourself up–being down on yourself doesn’t help you make any progress toward your goals and can turn your thoughts into “I give up.” Focus on the positives. You’re with family, enjoying an amazing meal that you only get once a year. Enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and leave the guilty feelings at the door. Don’t feel guilty the next day either.
- Move. Continue to get regular exercise during the holiday season and especially on the day of the party. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something. This could mean TABATA in the kitchen while the green beans blanche, or yoga from a YouTube video while the turkey roasts…do what you gotta do.
We promise the holidays can be both enjoyable and healthy! Probably the most important thing to remember at all times of the year, but especially during the holidays, is to live a healthy lifestyle NOW. Your healthy habits don’t end on Thanksgiving and start over on January 1. It can be difficult to stick to a solid routine throughout the holidays, but building healthy habits ahead of time will make this time of year way easier!
Have more ways that you keep the holidays healthy? Comment below!
Allison is the Licensed and Registered Dietitian at fit-flavors. She strongly believes we should have positive experiences at mealtimes and truly enjoy the food we eat. Allison is passionate about teaching others on mindfulness and portion control to achieve your goals. She encourages all her clients to view eating healthy as a lifestyle, not a diet. Learn more about Allison and one-on-one nutrition counseling.