The holiday season can be a real test of willpower, especially when sumptuous food is right in your face all of the time. Maintaining healthy eating during the holidays is a challenge for most people. The holidays tempt you to partake in treats and assail the healthy eating habits you’ve worked hard to build all year long.
It is a known fact that many people fall off the wagon, sabotage their clean eating habits, and undo their progress during the holiday season. If this is you, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Don’t turn your holidays into a “holidaze,” where you come out in a daze with a spare tire in your belly wondering what went wrong.
Instead of unravelling your healthy routines this season, find a way to balance things out. You can nourish your body well and be merry while still enjoying various celebrations. When you make smart choices, it is possible to eat yummy, healthy food without stacking on the pounds. Here’s how you can enjoy the Christmas holidays while maintaining your healthy eating habits:
1. Resist the Urge to Skip Meals
The most effective form of appetite control is not skipping meals. Some people form a bad habit of skipping a meal or two to prepare for parties. They try to save calories prior to an event. However, this can backfire on you because it makes you feel ravenous. As a result, you end up indulging and overeating during the party because you feel deprived. Going to a holiday event hungry is a recipe for disaster. Instead, have a filling snack such as:
- String cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Handful of nuts
- Whole wheat crackers & nut butter
Routine and structure help you stick to your healthy habits. Following your regular diet rich in protein and fibre assures that your blood sugar levels remain stable. As a result, you kick cravings away and keep your appetite well controlled throughout the day. Hence, by the time you attend any party, you are in a position to make healthier choices. You can readily say no to sugary treats and processed junk. Alternatively, you can opt to take a small bite but have the self-control to stop overeating.
2. Prioritize Filling Up on Healthy Food
It can be very tempting to partake in treats when they’re right there at the buffet table. You’ve got savoury sauces, gingerbread, Christmas cookies, Yule log, cheesecakes, yams with marshmallows, cookies, pies, etc. How can you possibly say no to all those delectable delights? One trick to help you say a big fat no is filling up your plate with nourishing food.
Remember, studies show it takes 20 minutes for your brain to feel full. Hence, when you reach for healthier options like salads, whole wheat grains, and lean proteins, you trick your stomach into feeling full. This prevents you from indulging in all the wrong food choices. Later, if you still feel a bit hungry after finishing up what’s on your plate, you can go back to the buffet to try the more indulgent treats. But, of course, by then, you are near full already and won’t go overboard.
You can also give the 80/20 rule a try. This means you eat 80% healthy and 20% for treats. This fairly reasonable guideline accommodates healthy eating without making you feel deprived and sad over missing out on holiday treats. However, this may not work for those with a sugar addiction because it can be hard for them to resist stopping with just one. So gauge yourself if you’re the type to spiral out of control before giving this rule a go.
3. Stay Hydrated
Sometimes you’re actually thirsty, not hungry. The body is made of around 60% water, which means you need to drink plenty of it for your organs to function well. Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water will curb your sugar cravings and deter overindulgence.
If you attend a holiday party and start craving for a particular treat, tame it down by drinking a full glass of water. Later on, reassess if you are still craving the treat before indulging in it. Besides, it is often easy to mistake your hunger pangs for thirst. So your body could be feeling dehydrated instead.
4. Bring a Healthier Alternative to Work or Gatherings
When you are serious about staying in control over the holidays, one thing you can do is to bring a healthier dish. With the help of the internet, you can reinvent your calorie-ladened holiday dish into a healthier version. For example, you can make a healthier roast with gravy made with arrowroot flour and coconut milk instead of refined flour and cream. You can also create healthier desserts by substituting sugar with stevia and using almond flour. This will satisfy your sweet tooth without messing up your diet.
With Google at your fingertips, you can research healthy dishes that align with your eating habits. Besides, bringing a holiday dish to family parties will guarantee that you have a nutritious choice fit for your palate. This is the best answer to potlucks!
5. Scan the Lineup and be Selective with Splurges
Healthy eating is about balance, meaning you need to satisfy both the nutritional and emotional components. Unfortunately, it cannot be helped because food is always tied to emotions. That’s why there’s such a thing as comfort foods. Certain items really trigger happy memories, especially during the holidays, and you should not deprive yourself of that, too.
The answer to this is scanning the buffet or dinner table for your “must-have” items versus the “not-so-favourites.” Having a prioritized eating plan that makes room for a couple of fave holiday splurges keeps you from falling victim to partaking in everything that’s in front of you.
Remember, there are food items you can have any other day of the year, and some are just seasonal. So indulge wisely! If you’ve got pushy relatives bringing food up to your nose, decline politely but firmly.
6. Beware of Liquid Calories
Not all beverages are made equal. Holiday beverages such as eggnog, for example, have a ton of liquid calories that you must be cognizant of. If you want to make sure you don’t gain a bunch of weight this holiday season, drink more of the zero-calorie beverages such as water, herbal tea, or seltzer. High-calorie festive drinks like eggnog can wreak havoc on your diet. Similarly, alcoholic beverages are loaded with empty calories. Partaking in one too many drinks can inevitably lead to poor food choices because your judgement becomes clouded.
If you cannot help but drink a glass or two of bubbly, do it in moderation. Another nifty trick is to alternate your alcohol drink with a glass of water. Doing this will keep you hydrated and help your liver and kidneys filter the alcohol content in your blood. It will also assure your alcohol consumption stays balanced. And remember, stay responsible and never drink and drive.
7. Eat Until Satisfied But NOT Stuffed
Just because delicious food is in front of you doesn’t mean you have to binge eat the treats. Curb mindless eating by tapping into your fullness gauge. The key is to feel satisfied and not overly stuffed. Remember that icky feeling you get when your stomach is too full. You don’t want to feel as if you’re bursting at the seams. Food induced stupor will make you feel more lethargic and miserable.
Instead, eat slowly and savour your food because you can always eat more tomorrow. Enjoy seasonal treats and really let the flavours roll in your tongue. Having them once a year will not kill your diet. And keep in mind, it would help to stay away from the food table to prevent boredom snacking. You are there to visit and socialize with people and not just there to devour all the food.
8. Curb The Guilty Feelings by Shifting Your Mindset
Finally, you must learn to never beat yourself up over the holidays. It’s natural to gain a bit of weight during the holiday season. If you let yourself feel guilty about a bit of weight gain, your feelings of sadness and guilt will likely lead to more overeating. Sometimes, looking at the positive side of things will result in better outcomes. As the Law of Attraction says, “like attracts like,” so don’t feel pessimistic. Instead, embrace the season because you will be making happy memories with family and friends.
And if you do end up overindulging yourself in a party or two, don’t beat yourself up over it. People can fall off the wagon, but they can get back up again and continue moving forward. Just make it a point to make your next meal nutritious. Most importantly, make room for exercise to help you burn off your holiday indulgences.
A convenient at-home DNA test such as CircleDNA can provide you with a diet profile and some structure if you need guidance. The test results will provide you with information on the best nutritional profile and exercise routine that caters to your unique DNA. With this sophisticated and comprehensive health report, you’ll have the peace of mind to eat well and be merry this Christmas season.