It is that time of year where we have to start thinking about all the candy all the cookies all the snacks that are around. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas — we got that holiday overindulgence of food thing going on and on and it can be a struggle for indulgence for many of us. It IS hard to resist grandma’s pumpkin cake, Aunt Dolores’ apple dumplings and my mom’s amazing fudge! But I have a plan and I want to share that plan with you! For many of us, holiday gatherings revolve around food, which it can pack on several pounds over our lifetime according to the National Institute of Health. I want to try to help you avoid that! Here are my best tips on how to beat the holiday bulge this year:
1) Be realistic with yourself
If you are fully aware of your struggle with holiday food, acknowledge it and simply try to just maintain your current weight. If we completely eliminate any of the holiday traditional foods, we may feel deprived and then we sort of end up crash dieting. This can lead to a yo-yo cycle that just creates a vicious spiral.
2) Plan time to exercise
Go for a walk, go to the gym, workout at home to a DVD…getting in even as little as ten to fifteen minutes of exercise a day can help you to maintain and not gain. There are a ton of free home workouts available. THIS one even has my health coaching and support!
3) Don’t skip meals
So many times people say “oh I’m not eating before the holiday party because I want to make sure I can eat at the holiday party.” Trust me! You will be able to eat at the holiday party. Having small snacks throughout the day, maybe it’s a piece of fruit, maybe it’s some Greek yogurt, or a handful almonds before leaving for your party. Eating something light and healthy will help you from over indulging at the party. Whatever you don, avoid going to the party starving!
4) Choose your favorites!
If you’re at a holiday party, only choose your favorite foods and skip the least favorite foods. Why would you want to bother with calories that are not something you would really enjoy! This is an easy way way to cut down on calories without feeling like you’re missing out!
5) Don’t eat until you’re overly stuffed!
I don’t necessarily need a whole piece of pecan pie but doggone it I am so eating a piece of pecan pie. Maybe it’s a little slower rate like I take a little sliver of pecan pie that gives me three bites I am perfectly happy with three bites OK maybe four and I don’t need the crust why because I don’t love the crust and I am not going to eat something I don’t love why do I want to waste calories on something I don’t love So I don’t eat the crust grandma may not like that but in my family everyone knows Erin does not eat the crust and my cousin is the same way we don’t eat the crust of our pie It’s chicken food So sit down get comfortable enjoy your meal and eat until you’re satisfied.
6) Avoid drinking your calories
Hey, I love that glass of wine or a craft beer as much as the next person. But, I always want to choose WHEN I drink my calories and take that into account. If I”m at a gathering where i know I’m going to over consume calories, I limit myself to ONE drink. Alcohol is full of sugar. It has tons of calories and alcohol lessons our inhibitions. This can then lead mindless munching. More important than anything else, please don’t drink and drive — always have a designated driver.
7) Have a plan
Many of us visit multiple holiday parties over the months of November and December. There have been times our family has traveled to THREE holiday meals in one day. Oh my aching stomach. After one year of unsuccessfully navigating that experience I learned to HAVE a plan! When traveling to multiple meals in one day, decide what and how much you’re eating before you get to each location. If mom is serving a meal at 1pm, then eat your salad, lean protein and smaller portions of your favorites. I did mention veggies, right? Then for your second meal, you can still enjoy, just smaller portions and this is where you enjoy a small portion of dessert. By sharing your plan in advance with the host or hostess, you can avoid hurt feelings.
8) Take the focus off of food
Many of us have our holiday traditions revolve around food. We bake cookies, we set the fancy table settings out, we have extra candy, candy canes, etc…. Take the focus off food and turn those holiday cookie and candy baking traditions into crafts! You can turn the season of giving into blessing nursing home residents, shut ins, young children or even your neighbors! There are a TON of ideas out there! You can even peruse Pinterest for a little inspiration!
9) Bring your own food to a holiday gathering
Yep. I’m that family member who is sure to bring a gluten free dessert and some sort of healthy veggie. This way I’m guaranteed to have at least one healthy option and a dessert that I can eat. When you’re the only one in your family who has special dietary needs, you learn quickly that if you need something prepared a certain way, you have to just bring something yourself. We can’t expect everyone to always accommodate us — it can be confusing, so why risk it. Brining you own favorites allows you to share what you love with others; often presenting an educational opportunity!
10) Practice healthy cooking habits
Prepare those favorite dishes that you love with lower calories.
I love cranberry sauce I think it’s one of my favorite things to eat in the holidays. But the stuff in a can is just so unhealthy! I learned how to make my homemade cranberry sauce that’s very clean. I also allow my turkey broth to chill in the fridge can scoop off some of the fat before making gravy! Scooping the fat saves almost 50-60 grams of fat per cup of gravy!
I use gluten free bread to make stuffing and add more vegetable like extra onion, celery, and even add whole cranberries! Instead of using butter to smother the bread, I use organic vegetable broth. For creamy mash potatoes, I use almond milk and chicken broth to help thin out the potato and add parmesan cheese instead of butter.
Keep in mind the whole goal is to enjoy the holidays by planning time for activities, work on incorporating healthy recipes into your holiday meals and don’t feel the need to restrict yourself because who wants to go through life with deprivation and really not enjoying themselves? But if you can just make a few healthy choices, your body will thank you in the long run!
To help us stay on track, I am am running a Finish Strong 2016 Accountability Group to focus on nutrition and fitness and support for the remainder of 2016! I will be sharing with you
- Tips for going to holiday parties
- Things that you can eat before you go to holiday gatherings
- Things that you can do while you’re there to help you stick to your goals
- A deeper dive into these 10 tips
- Accountability with your nutrition and fitness