Ah, the holidays! A time of joy, celebration, and of course food. From Thanksgiving feasts to Christmas cookies, the holiday season is a culinary abundance that can leave even the most disciplined dieters feeling a bit guilty. But don’t worry, with a smart diet strategy you can enjoy the holiday season without overindulging and regretting it when January rolls around.
Today’s blog will be a complete do’s and don’ts guide of holiday eating, so you’ll navigate through this season with ease, maintaining your health and waistline. Simply keep reading, and you’ll see!
Do: Plan Ahead
Before you dive headfirst into the holiday delights, take a moment to plan your approach. Setting clear goals and strategies can help you stay on track more easily.
Start by identify the specific events and gatherings you’ll attend and anticipate the types of dishes that will be served. Knowing what’s on the menu ahead of time can help you make more conscious decisions.
Don’t: Skip Meals
A common mistake people make during the holidays is trying to “save” calories by skipping multiple meals before a big event. This strategy can easily backfire, as it leaves you starving and more likely to overeat. Instead, stick to your regular eating schedule, and have a small, balanced snack or meal before the holiday gathering. This will help you control appetite and suppress overindulging.
Do: Hydrate Yourself
Water is your secret weapon during the holidays. Not only does staying hydrated support your overall health, but it can and will help you control appetite. Sometimes, our bodies mistake thirst for hunger, leading us to eat more than we actually need.
So, make it a habit to drink water throughout the day, especially before and during a holiday meal.
Don’t: Go Overboard with Alcohol
This time of the year often involves a generous serving of alcoholic beverages. While enjoying a glass of wine or a festive cocktail is perfectly fine, going overboard can lead to empty calories and bad dietary decisions. Set a clear limit for yourself, and consider alternating alcoholic drinks with water or low-calorie drinks to stay in control.
Do: Fill Up on Veggies
I know this next one may be a bit challenging, but consider this. When faced with a buffet of holiday dishes, try to focus a bit more on vegetables. They’re packed with fiber and nutrients, which can help you feel full and satiated. Plus, they’ll take up space on your plate, leaving less room for high-calorie, comfort foods. Roasted brussels sprouts, collard greens, a colorful salad, or steamed green beans can all be delicious and nutritious additions to your holiday meal.
Don’t: Go Heavy on Gravy and Sauces
While a drizzle of gravy or spoonful of cranberry sauce can add flavor to your holiday plate, be cautious not to drown your food in these calorie-packed condiments. Use them sparingly to keep some balance in your meal. Opt for healthier options like reduced fat-gravy or homemade sauces with less sugar and salt, or simply use smaller amounts of the real deal.
Do: Choose Lean Proteins
Turkey, ham and roasted chicken are common holiday protein options. Go for lean cuts and remove the skin to cut down on excess fat. Protein is very valuable for many reasons, not only will it help you stay full and satisfied, it will also ensure you’re muscles are well fed with this essential macronutrient for growth.
Don’t: Overdo the Carbs
We all love mashed potatoes, stuffing, and buttermilk biscuits. They are simply delicious and almost addictive. But, while they’re undeniable tasty, it’s easy to overeat these high-calorie sides. It’s best to choose smaller portions, and savor each bite. This way you’ll still get the holiday meal experience, without a huge surplus.
Do: Prioritize Workouts
Besides the holiday shopping, decorating, and cooking, don’t forget to make time for your workouts. Go extra heavy in the gym or during your home workout, and you’ll easily offset the extra calories that will be consumed later in the day.
If you don’t really feel like training, other forms of physical activity will also work. Whether it’s a brisk walk, mild jog, or a dance session at a holiday party, staying active will help you burn those pesky unnecessary calories.
Don’t: Graze All Day
Social gatherings often involve a never-ending supply of snacks and appetizers. While it’s tempting to nibble on these treats, it can add up a lot of calories. Instead, decide on specific times when you’ll allow yourself to indulge in these goodies.
This will help you maintain control over your eating.
Do: Enjoy the Moment
While it’s important to be mindful of your dietary choices, don’t forget the true purpose of the holidays – spending quality time with your family, creating cherished memories, and embracing the spirit of the season. Food is only a part of the celebration, don’t let it overshadow the joy of the holidays.
Debunking: What Will Actually Happen if You Overeat?
Let me reveal a secret to you, indulging in a big meal won’t make you gain fat instantly. Even consuming 1,000 to 3,000 extra calories in one sitting won’t immediately add fat to your body. You may feel bloated or retain water, but that’s just temporary.
Gaining weight is a more gradual process. To make a real impact on your weight, you’d need to consume around 3,500 calories more than your usual intake. So, if your daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories, you’d have to eat at least 5,500 calories in a day to see a noticeable change in the scale. Even on Thanksgiving, most Americans only consume around 4,000 calories.
Weight loss and gain are long-term processed influenced by regular habits. Just as you don’t build muscle from one set of curls, you don’t gain weight from an occasional indulgence, no matter how extravagant that one meal may be.
Now, this isn’t a guilt free pass to cheat on your diet, but rather a reminder that moderation and balance is key. Enjoy your meals, but just be mindful of your choices and portions.
To wrap things up, the holiday season doesn’t have to be a dietary disaster. By following today’s do’s and don’ts, you can navigate the festive feasts with confidence, maintain your health, and keep your gym progress in check. Remember, moderation is key, and a bit of indulgence is entirely acceptable.
So, go ahead and savor those holiday flavors – just do it thoughtfully. Wish you all the best!