The holiday season is a time of magic, festivity, family time, and celebrating miracles both great and small.
For some, however, the holidays are also a time of eating things you wouldn’t dare touch the rest of the year and finding yourself hung over on January 1st, loathing yourself as you struggle to button your jeans.
Don’t be that person.
Staying healthy and trim this holiday season is easier than you may think. Here are some handy tips and tricks for splurging responsibly this holiday season.
GENERAL THOUGHTS ON FOOD, MOOD, AND THE HOLIDAYS:
You are invariably going to cheat on whatever diet you’re on around Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years. It’s bound to happen. Whether you’re counting calories, swearing off sugar, or powering through Paleo style, something will slip by your lips that might not during other times of the year. Take a deep breath. Commit to accepting and loving yourself this season.
…And now let’s review some ways to make sure it all happens in moderation, so the little indulgences feel like treats instead of blows to your sense of self worth.
More than any other time of year, it’s important to eat your veggies! Try to make half of your plate at every meal plant-based. Potatoes and corn don’t count. The goal here is for you to get full mostly on vegetables, so that when the less healthy dishes come around you’re eating them for fun and not to actually get full. Going to a potluck? Bring a salad. Hosting a dinner? Don’t let your guests cop out by bringing wine or tortilla chips; ask them to bring a vegetable dish. This is especially important for vegetarians, who are often stuck with pasta and potatoes at family gatherings – foods low in nutritional value and high in quick-burning carbohydrates.
No Skipping Meals:
Skipping lunch so you can pig out at dinner is a recipe for disaster. Plus it actually makes you gain weight, because you’re confusing the heck out of your metabolism. Promote normal metabolic function by eating three meals and three snacks daily. (Yes, even if you’re getting takeout tonight or pigged out last night.) Oh, and on that note, let’s get this down in writing: coffee is not – and has never been – a substitute for a proper meal. (I’m looking at you, breakfast-skippers!)
Eat a Savory Breakfast Every Day:
You will have so many opportunities to eat sugar through the rest of your day; there is no reason whatsoever to start your day off with it. Skip the bagels, toast, cereals, pancakes, and waffles. Focus instead on nutrient-dense, protein-rich, breakfasts like eggs, whole milk yogurt, chicken sausage, sautéed vegetables, and dinner leftovers.
Balance Your Blood Sugar:
If you’re eating something sweet, try to pair it with a little fat and protein to dampen the insulin spike. For example, put some almond butter on a cookie, or cream cheese on a brownie (seriously, try it, it’s amazing.) Also, try to eat sweets and starches around mealtime to soften the blood sugar blow to your system.
Watch the Liquid Sugar:
One can of cola contains more sugar than two frosted pop tarts and a twinkie combined! Gross. With all the opportunities to eat sugar this season, there really is no excuse for drinking soda. Think you’re off the hook for drinking diet? Research actually shows that people who drink diet sodas consume more calories per day than non-diet drinkers. This is because a chemical in diet softdrinks suppresses the hormone that lets your brain know you’re full after you’ve eaten. Scary stuff.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention…
Move Your Tuchus!
Exercise is the SINGLE best thing you can do for your health, every season. This is especially true around the holidays, when you’re eating more calories and getting stressed about your dysfunctional family (c’mon, you know you’ve got one just like the rest of us). Use exercise as your anchor this season. You can even turn it into a family activity, with everybody going for a stroll after dinner or taking a weekend afternoon to do some ice skating, snow shoeing, or hiking. The goal is 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. See if you can get a light sweat going.
May your holidays be filled with light, miracles, body-moving, and healthy eating!