The holidays get crazy – let’s face the facts. With the best of intentions also come a whole lot of stress and a whole lot of feasting! While much of the stress surrounding the holidays is positive stress, December has a way of getting hectic, thus sometimes getting the best of us and our goals.
Instead, we accept defeat and each day, we count down the days until January 1st when we can commit to a New Year’s Resolution (and we all know how that goes).
So, what gives? This year, you don’t have to accept defeat – we promise. With tools like the 9-week Happy Body Formula program or our 7-Day Make Ahead Meal Plan, we have tons of resources that can organize your meal prep for you to ensure that you stay on track, or something if you just need a quick ‘cleanse.’
Beyond that, we want to incorporate the two worlds of truly enjoying your holidays (and the food!) and sticking to your goals. Impossible? Think again.
Most people gain one pound over the holidays. Not much in the big picture, but the more alarming statistic is that those people keep it on all year! Over time, that adds up.
Let’s think in terms of the big picture this season, and give ourselves the gift of a little peace of mind.
Mind over matter
Many of us possess a unique mindset around the holidays that differs wildly from our day-to-day eating routine! We go into the party expecting to eat, and eat BIG.
This is fine considering the holidays only roll around once per year, but if you’re really trying to stick to the plan and avoid gaining weight over the holidays – or even just ending up with a sick tummy – you might want to readjust where your head’s at.
Remind yourself of your goals and your reasoning. Remind yourself of the hard work you put in everyday. Think back on times when overindulgence did not serve you well – and does it ever?
It’s easy to pick up on what the people around you are doing, and if everyone is headed to the cookie tray and snacking mindlessly before dinner, you’re going to naturally be inclined to do the same. Remember: you don’t have to!
Follow the 80/20 rule
This tip certainly applies to everyday life, but it makes the holidays a million times easier – trust us. It’s simple enough to decide at the beginning of a new month to commit 100% to something, but we can’t do everything all at once.
For many people, the holidays leave us with a little less time and a little less control, so trying to make it happen can be futile.
Instead, make it happen enough. What you do most of the time is what makes a difference, so aim for a reasonable goal that won’t overwhelm you to the point of straight up abandoning it. 80/20 is good, but even 60/40 or 70/30 is perfectly fine when life gets challenging.
Go for a walk
Here’s a fun fact for you: walking after a meal can reduce the impact of blood glucose rising by up to 40%. Hello, carbs! Meet your maker.
A quick walk after a meal will change how your body reacts to the food – literally – so if you’re feeling bogged down or like you’ve overindulged, resolve to walk after your meals more often. Really, we just mean a stroll. Anyone can manage it.
Even if you don’t surround your walks around mealtime, getting in vitamin D during the winter for those of you up North is so important. The sun sets earlier, and the days are short with more to do!
Prioritize some ‘you’ time and soak up a little sun if you have the opportunity to do so. It will boost your mood, beat stress, and help you stay fit and active.
Mindful eating is easier said than done considering the holiday meal mentality which is basically, “Stuff yourself silly.”
If you can manage to tap into it, though, you’ll recognize your ability to eat normal serving sizes – even of those sneaky treats – rather than gorging on seconds and thirds just because.
You already know that you don’t like the bloat and the heavy feeling after you’ve indulged a bit too mindlessly. Consider the end result as you enjoy your meal.
Digestion starts in the brain, and then as you chew, so chew slowly. Stop when you’re around 80% full, and then you can make choices from there. If you hit your capacity, you’ll be more likely to suffer the blow of a blood glucose spike, and subsequently end up eating even more.
Offer to cook
This one is pretty straightforward. Perhaps you have some cooking duties already. If so, take advantage! If time is on your side, invest wisely, and offer to make a little something extra.
Even if it just means whipping up some paleo Christmas cookies so you have something smart and sweet to nibble on, you can rest assured that your guests won’t even know it’s good for ’em.
Load up on protein
Having a healthy dose of lean and clean turkey, chicken or ham at the celebration will serve you well. Protein and fats fill you up, whereas those cheesy potatoes are basically signaling to your brain, “MORE, MORE, MORE.”
To avoid overeating in general, load up first on protein and plain veggies. Then, if you’re still feeling a bit peckish, you can dig into some starchier and sweeter foods.
Don’t even overthink it. If you’re already eating healthy, just aim to build your holiday plate the same way you would a normal dinner plate. Think about what you’re putting on it rather than what you’re leaving out.
Go for 80/20, and make sure the 80% includes protein, fat, some green veggies and a little starch if you like.
Eat before you go
If you know you’ll have trouble sticking to the plan and making healthy choices – or you’re unsure about the menu altogether – perhaps eating a small but quality meal prior to hitting up the dinner party is a smart choice for you.
That way, you can ensure that you get in satiating healthy fats, protein and fibre which will keep you full and energized for hours to come.
At the very least, you won’t be drooling over all the sights and smells, and you can let your true hunger speak for you when you line up to fill your plate rather than your mind hunger… which can often be deceiving!
Drink plenty of water
If your belly is full of water, how much food can you really eat? With coffee and spirits flowing (read more on that below), we’re much more prone to dehydration over the holidays.
This holds even more truth if you’re traveling, over caffeinated or stressed. Water first!
Water fills you up, and it will help you to eat mindfully, avoid alcohol or at least lessen the blow, and digest your food properly.
… and avoid the alcohol!
Alcohol is a mainstay during the holidays. It’s a bubbly and social time, and it’s quite good to unwind with a few drinks and a few friends.
Unfortunately, this bleeds into more than just a weekend occasion in the month of December; you’ve got office functions, family get togethers and friends in from out of town, so it can turn into a night out into a party rather quickly.
Enjoy it, but do so responsibly.
Alcohol packs in a huge calorie punch on top of heavier-than-usual meals, there’s often a lot of sugar hiding out in cocktails, and it’s not exactly known for making you feel great the next day.
It cuts into precious sleep time and leads to some nasty headaches. Avoid alcohol entirely, or limit yourself to one drink per occasion, or one occasion per week.
Pick favorites (wisely)
This isn’t your first rodeo. You know the classic family recipes that you look forward to each year, and you know your favorite desserts (hint: it’s not ALL of them).
Prioritize your indulgences, and you’ll leave the party feeling satisfied and in control rather than some post-dinner regret. If you’re going to step outside of the box, make sure it’s worth it!
Plan ahead of time or scope out the scene while at dinner. If you have a big celebration, there will likely be dishes that a) aren’t so healthy and b) aren’t that appetizing in the first place.
When it comes to things covered in cheese or holiday pies, it’s good to pick the best of the best instead of going overboard.
It’s okay to say no
Yes, it’s true! While it’s often thought of as polite to graciously accept all the things and all the food, you don’t have to. Seriously! Empower yourself to make good choices by using the phrase, “I don’t eat that” instead of, “I can’t eat that.”
If obligation is what’s standing in your way, just keep this tip in the back of your mind as you navigate the social scene.
Limit yourself to one day
Or even, limit yourself to one meal! While the holidays can certainly feel like a never-ending string of events (and tasty, caloric, not-so-good-for-you foods), the fact of the matter is that we’re not sitting down to an important, special occasion meal every night for two months.
You know the plans; if you’ve got Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner, you can simply limit yourself to indulgence at those meals and those meals alone. Call it a day and get back with the plan tomorrow.
If you need a helping hand getting back on track during the holidays, we’ve got you covered! Our free 7-Day Make Ahead Meal Plan ensures you’ll have healthy options to lean on all week. Forget the juice cleanse!
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