Forget the typical holiday weight gain, this healthy holiday survival guide will help you stay on track AND keep your sanity in the coming weeks.
Healthy Holiday Survival Guide
I love the holidays!!! It truly is a magical time of year. The decorations, lights, sweater weather, Christmas Specials, yummy food and special get togethers with family and friends make this such an exciting time of year. Yes, the holidays are great for making wonderful memories, but for many, they are also the cause of an unwanted guest......an increased waistline. Too many splurges, less time, lack of exercise, and too little sleep can wreak havoc on our bodies and dampen our holiday spirit. I mean, how are you supposed to spread good cheer when you have to fight mall traffic with a case of the hangries?
For many, the holidays means that even those with the best intentions may end up throwing caution to the wind and making poor health choices if they don’t do some strategizing and planning ahead of time. So, while I am certainly not telling you to pass up on all your holiday favorites, if you implement these 5 simple tips, you can survive the holiday mayhem while continuing to make progress and feel great at the same time.
1. Plan Ahead
I cannot stress this enough. A little planning can help you go a long way. Look at your week. What nights will you be home and what nights do you have a party, a sports practice, a choral concert etc. I suggest picking a day to do some meal prep, so you can have a big pot of soup to graze on throughout the week. I love this chicken detox soup which will actually help you burn calories when you eat it. Planning ahead is also super important when it comes to your fitness. Write down when you are going to work out in your planner, so you make time for it just like you would a hair appointment. Trust me on this, failing to plan is planning to fail. Pick a couple things you can do in advance that will help you continue to make progress amidst the crazy busy days ahead.
2. The Party
The Christmas season wouldn't be complete without a holiday soiree or two. But don't worry, you can still be Merry and Bright and fit in that little black dress with a few simple tips.
If it's a party that I am attending at someone's home, and I am bringing something to share, I will usually bring something healthier just so I know there is at least one good option out there. It could be a big Festive green salad with oranges and pomegranate seeds or a plate of olives, goat cheese, fruit and veggies.
Alcoholic Beverages are by far one of the biggest culprits when it comes to adding extra calories over the holidays. If you do decide to enjoy a libation or two, avoid sugary mixes and try to add some fresh lime, pomegranate, cranberry, ginger etc to some vodka and soda. It is also a good idea to alternate every alcoholic beverage with a glass of water. That's a good plan, but water can be a little lackluster when you're feeling festive, so I like to dress up sparkling water with some pomegranate juice, lime juice, cranberry juice or a combo of all 3 and serve it in a champagne flute. Not only will the sparkling water hydrate you but you’ll also save around 100 calories per cocktail compared to a glass of champagne. Oh, and if you need some recipes for healthier cocktails, check out the link for 11 upgraded holiday favorites below.
Whether you’re hosting the party or simply attending, it’s easy to overeat and not even realize what you just shoved down your throat. Three strategies I like to follow to survive the buffet are:
- Scan the entire buffet to decide what I want to eat before serving myself.
- Choose a smaller plate if available (like a salad plate versus a dinner plate) to keep from overeating—the smaller plate will look full and trick your brain into thinking you are eating more. You can always go back for seconds of a favorite food if you really need it.
- Fill ¾ of my plate with healthier options like fruit and veggies but give myself permission to enjoy something indulgent. I like to make sure that it is really special or something that I can only enjoy at this time of year.
So for example, pomegranates are only available from October through January so if there is an appetizer, dish or dessert made with fresh pomegranate, I always choose that. I love this spinach salad that features fresh pomegranate arils. They offer fiber which will help keep me full plus they have the best little burst of flavor in each bite. They’re festive, fun, and I love their sweet and tart flavor.
When it comes to holiday desserts, look for things you only enjoy this time of year. Avoid cookies/sweets that aren't special or desserts that you can have year round. What is your favorite christmas dessert. Enjoy a little bit and then you won't feel deprived. If there is a special tradition of making sugar cookies or your grandma's snowball cookies with your kids. By all means do it. Just find other ways you can cut a few calories to make up for it.
3. Shopping hangries
Ok, Let’s leave the party scene and talk about shopping–To keep from getting the HANGRIES when shopping, start with a substantial breakfast that will tie you over all morning. I love oatmeal, eggs, protein pancakes etc. Then always pack some healthy snacks. One of my favorite things to pack is pistachios for 2 reasons—
- It forces me to sit down and be mindful of what I’m eating. So often I swallow a bar or something whole when I’m driving and don’t even remember that I ate it. Because you have to crack pistachios, you have to stop and eat and it gives you a visual clue to help you remember that you just ate it.
- It has healthy fat and is a good source of protein and fiber to help keep me full. A 100 calorie pack has about 30 pistachios so compare that to chips where you only get about 8. They are delicious on their own or if you like a little flavor you can look for varieties like lightly salted, chili, or salt and pepper.
I also will often pack a bottled water and an apple to satisfy my craving for something sweet. Plus, it has the added benefit of fiber which will keep me feeling fuller longer. Of course, if you need a little extra somethin' somethin', a couple of pieces of dove dark chocolate totally does it for me.
It is hard to make it through the holidays and keep your sanity without sleep. In fact, studies have found that sleepy people overeat and that sleep deprived people don’t have their appetite-regulating hormones, grehlin and leptin, in check.
To help, try unplugging when you get home and keeping electronics shut down at least an hour before bedtime. Also trying going to bed at the same time every night and paying attention to what you eat and drink in the evening. I love to sip on something hot when it's cold outside. Some Hot chamomile tea or golden milk are both soothing and will do my body good. Likewise, a Hot bath with lavender epsom salts is so calming and will help my body recover from my daily workouts.
5. Look for Ways to Move More
With all the extra calories that are around us, it's super important to burn them off. Even if you can't get to the gym, you can focus on getting more steps by parking further away from the mall, taking the stairs in stead of the escalator, gathering greens in the yard so spruce up your holiday decor, going ice skating, or building a snowman. And, if you have 15 minutes and want a really great total body burn, try this full body workout. I'm thinking you can find 15 minutes, right?
So, are you ready to take on the holidays with a little more confidence. This can be an absolutely beautiful time of year without the worry of gaining the weight.
Helping you Stay Healthy and Fit!