Eating healthy over the holidays, and enjoying your holiday party food without gaining weight, is possible!
Holidays are meant to be fun. They’re a time to enjoy friends and family. But oftentimes they’re stressful, especially with so many indulgent treats and events that pull you from your healthy routines. After you’ve worked so hard to establish healthy eating habits, or have reached your weight goal, it’s not uncommon to feel food-related anxiety around holiday meals and events. You can regain control of your holiday eating by following just a few of these simple tips.
Tips to reduce food-related anxiety
(so you can have fun while still eating healthy over the holidays)
- Add one big green salad daily or one monster greens smoothie (any fresh or frozen fruits and veggies you have on hand) to your routine. Focus on what you can ADD to your diet rather than what you should take away.
- Eat breakfast to avoid overeating later in the day.
Skipping any meals makes you extra hungry later, which makes it harder to make healthy choices.
- Grab a healthy snack before going to a party.
Avoid showing up so hungry that you want to eat everything in sight.
- Pop gum or a mint in your mouth when you’ve had enough.
- Fill your plate with low-calorie items first, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins. Then fill in gaps with calorie dense foods (casseroles, breads, sweets).
- Use a smaller plate (dessert plate or salad plate).
You can always go up for seconds.
- Focus on variety! Fill your plate with a wide range of colors and nutrients, rather than just loading up on one food item.
- Keep moving, even for short intervals. Take a brisk 15 minute walk after a big meal. If you don’t have time for your regular long walk, break it into smaller walks. Take some 10 or 15 minute walks around the block throughout the day. These short intervals can be just as effective as a continuous workout!
- Choose your indulgences wisely. Don’t waste calories on foods you don’t enjoy. Instead, pick foods that are unique to the season and that you really enjoy. Do not feel guilty! These holidays only come once a year. You can go back to your regular eating habits the next day.
- Bring healthy, nutrient-dense snacks to the office and keep communal treats out of sight if possible. The more you see something, the more likely you are to keep going back for more.
- Sip on unsweetened herbal teas and sparkling water throughout the day to help curb cravings and to avoid empty calories.
- Avoid overindulging alcohol. Not only does alcohol contain a lot of calories, but it makes it harder for you to say no to extra servings of other high calorie foods.
- Stay off the scale. A meal high in carbs will naturally make your body retain more water, which will make it appear as though you have gained weight in just a day or two. You haven’t! Limit your scale check-ins to once a week or even less.
Healthy holiday snacks to keep in stock:
- roasted chickpeas
- greek yogurt with berries
- fresh-pressed juice
- Veggies and dip
- single serving almond butter
- dark chocolate
- fresh fruit
- flax tortilla chips and salsa
- flax crackers
- low-sugar cereal
- hot cocoa
- herbal teas
- sparkling water
After your holiday meals, here are some things you can do to get back on track.
- Move. Walk, swim, ski, jog indoors, take functional fitness classes, lift weights, do yoga…. Put those extra calories to work. Movement isn’t punishing your body for eating — eating well fuels your body for movement!
- Drink water. And drink some more water.
- Sauna. Sitting in the infrared sauna for 30 minutes burns hundreds of calories.
- Resume your healthy habits. Don’t starve or restrict your food the following day. The day after your big meal or party, eat a normal amount of healthy meals and calories. Prioritize nutrients you didn’t get in the day before. It’s ok to enjoy some untracked meals or to go back for seconds on Aunt Susan’s homemade dessert as long as you aren’t overindulging every single day. When you first fill your daily meals with lean proteins and fibrous vegetables, you’ll give your body the kinds of nutrients it needs to keep burning fat and building muscle.