When we think about the holidays we automatically assume that we will be overindulging. But what does overindulgence usually lead to? Guilt. And if we continue to overindulge, weight gain can sneak up on us. But what if we change how we think about the holidays and instead focus on what we’re thankful for: family, friends and yes, even food. Food is great and definitely something to be thankful for, but that doesn’t mean that we have to stuff ourselves to the brim just because that’s what society thinks is acceptable. Here are some holiday tips to live by this season to keep you feeling and looking great! And just maybe your healthy habits will rub off on some of your friends or family. Now that’s a win-win!
1. START YOUR DAY OFF RIGHT.
Get a morning workout in. The holidays are usually a busy time, so it’s best to get your workout done in the morning before the chaos begins. Make a plan to exercise the day after as well. What works for me is setting out my gym clothes the night before so it makes it that much easier to get moving. Also, plan a workout with a friend or family member so you don’t have to work out alone.
Eat a healthy, balanced breakfast. This is an important habit for everyday life, but is especially important over the holidays. Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast can help with snacking and cravings later in the day. My favorite breakfast is my Super Green Smoothie, or you can scramble up some eggs with veggies.
Get your veggies in while you can. Sometimes we don’t necessarily know what is being served for the main holiday meal, so it’s best to load up on the veggies while you can. Drink your morning green smoothie, have a salad for a mid-day meal and if you’re snacking, grab from the veggie tray as often as possible.
Stay hydrated throughout the day. Staying hydrated can work wonders on decreasing cravings. In fact, a lot of times when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty. It’s even more important to stay hydrated over the holidays if we are indulging at the wine or cocktail table. A general rule of thumb: for every alcoholic beverage, make room for one glass of water.
2. DON’T SKIP MEALS TO “SAVE UP” BEFORE YOUR BIG HOLIDAY MEAL.
This is never a good idea. Some people change eating habits during day just so they can save room to indulge later. I promise this approach doesn’t work. More times than not you will consume more calories by ‘saving’ up for that big meal and overindulging. By the time dinner rolls around we are starved which means we eat fast, we don’t pay attention to our fullness cues and we over stuff ourselves. Instead, space a couple small, healthy meals throughout the day [and make sure to include those veggies].
3. STOP THE CONSTANT SNACKING.
This can be a tough one for a lot of people, especially if we don’t start our day with a healthy breakfast. To avoid temptation, it’s best to stay out of the kitchen where most of the snacks may be. And if you’re truly hungry, grab a small plate and try to fill up on the healthier options like fruit, veggies, raw nuts or even some cheese. Have your water nearby so you can stay hydrated. Add lemon or fruit to water for extra flavor or sip on some tea or coffee.
4. PREPARE COMFORT FOODS IN INDIVIDUAL PORTIONS.
If you struggle with portion sizes, this tip can work wonders. Muffins tins are the perfect size for individual portions of your favorite comfort foods like stuffing, mashed potatoes or even desserts. This way you don’t even have to worry about how much you’re going to scoop on your plate, it’s already portioned out for you. This can work for leftovers too. After the big meal, store the stuffing or mashed potatoes in muffin tins and put in the fridge. Then when you’re filling up your plate the day after Thanksgiving, you don’t have to worry about over portioning those high calorie foods.
5. FILL UP YOUR PLATE THE SMART WAY.
This is my favorite tip of all! Here’s the best way to strategically fill up your Thanksgiving plate:
First: greens + veggies → Second: protein [turkey] → Last: comfort foods
By filling up your plate this way, there shouldn’t be too much empty space for the less healthy options. Instead of putting salad in a separate bowl [which a lot of people do], put the salad on your plate to fill that space. We have all heard the saying “we eat with our eyes,” so if your plate look nice and full the first time around you may not feel the need to go for seconds.
6. BE PRESENT.
Most people forget about this part, but it really is important to make note of. Pay attention to the decorations, the table setting and the aromas. Really soak it all in and be present. Enjoy the time you have to spend with friends + family. And most importantly, enjoy the experience and eat slowly.
7. FOCUS ON THE BIG PICTURE.
What are the holidays really about? Decide what’s really important to you. Is it a time to sleep in and stress less, is it a time to catch up with friends + family? Whatever it is, keep it in focus and don’t forget what the holidays are really about. With that being said, when it comes to food, overindulgence and the fear of weight gain, instead of worrying about the few pounds you might gain; focus on making the healthiest choices at each meal. Focus on the positives that come from healthy eating. Know that it’s okay to enjoy some holiday favorites in small amounts, because who wants to be overly restricted around some of your favorite foods? Not me.
Take care of your body this holiday season and don’t wait until January 1st, start today.
p.s. Need some leftover ideas? Check out my Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale + Sausage Soup. Swap the sausage for turkey in this recipe and you have a delicious, healthy post-holiday meal.