It’s true what they say, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s are a constant parade of happy family celebrations and office parties.
Even the healthiest eaters are tempted when the sweets, and desserts come wrapped in pretty packages.
The good news is that there are plenty of practical ways you can avoid most of these temptations. Just follow these healthy eating tips to keep those unwanted pounds in check and enjoy the season.
Healthy Eating Tips
Most adults consume around 200 extra calories a day during these end of the year celebrations. That translates into roughly two to three pounds over the six week period of holiday time.
Be mindful of these healthy holiday tips so that your first New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be “go on a diet.”
1. Be Realistic
The best place where you can start is to stop beating yourself up. The holidays are an already stressful time. Don’t put unrealistic demands on yourself.
Self-loathing tends to breed more unhealthy behaviors. Shame can lead to poor eating habits because foods high in sugars and carbohydrates can reduce our negative internal feelings.
So rather than try to lose weight during the holidays, set a weight maintenance goal that will free you from shame that undermines your healthy habits.
2. Plan Ahead
Shopping, traveling and running errands during the holidays leaves little time to stop and enjoy a healthy meal. We feel strapped for time and often turn to fast food or unhealthy choices from the vending machines for our meals.
Avoid these fast food temptations by bringing high-protein snacks with you when you’re on the go.
When you start to hit the holiday party circuit, try not to arrive already hungry. Eat a healthy, filling snack of fruit or veggies before you arrive. You can also offer to bring a heart-healthy entrée or appetizer so you’ll know there’s at least one healthy offering to eat.
3. Keep Your Food Diary or Nutrition Plan Front and Center
Keep a handy food diary of all the foods you’ve eaten during the holiday period. Food diaries can be your roadmap on how to stay on a diet. Weigh yourself every day and mark it in your diary so you can see where you need to adjust your eating.
If you are one of those organized individuals who has one, be sure your nutrition plan stays in plain sight so that you can stay on track.
Your nutritionist is also a valuable resource to help you fight the holiday bulge. You can learn more here on how a nutrition plan can help promote general fitness not only during the holidays but all year long as well.
4. Don’t Skip Breakfast
It may sound logical to skip breakfast so that you’ll have more room for the holiday brunch. But the truth is, skipping this important meal leads to more overeating later in the day because you’re starving.
Research shows that people who eat first thing in the day, are likely to consume fewer calories as the day wears on.
Be sure to start your day with something that’s high in protein and healthy fats to build your energy until the next meal. Eat lots of fruits, whole grains and other fiber-rich foods that are low in calories. These foods are high in volume and will satisfy your hunger.
5. Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is about using your full attention to be aware of your experiences while you’re eating. These experiences include noticing smells, textures, and colors of the foods you eat. Mindful eating calls you to focus on the food and chew slowly without distraction.
Take the time to choose the foods you really want to eat and then actively focus on enjoying each bite’s smell, taste, and texture. When you eat more slowly, you’ll be more aware of your body’s signals that you are full and can’t take another bite.
6. Strategies at the Party
There are a host of clever moves where you can position yourself at the holiday parties that will help you avoid overeating.
Stand at least one arm’s length away from the food tables so that you aren’t tempted to nibble. Circle the food tables before you get in the buffet line so that you’ll know where the healthy foods are that you want to eat. If you feel like having seconds, wait a couple of minutes to make sure whether your body feels full or not.
7. Drink Half of Your Body Weight in Ounces of Water
It’s easy to confuse hunger and thirst. This confusion can lead to unnecessary snacking that never fills you up. To stay hydrated, drink half your body weight in ounces of water.
You’re also more prone to dehydration during the cold weather months. In the hot weather months, your body naturally sweats more and it’s an easy reminder to drink more water to replenish what you lost.
Get the facts on drinking water and make regular hydration a part of your everyday plan so you can fight off these shadow hunger sensations all year round.
8. Moderate Your Alcohol Consumption
Alcoholic beverages around holiday times are about as common as Christmas wreaths and mistletoe.
The next time you raise your glass in a New Year’s toast, remember that a glass of beer or wine averages around 100 to 125 empty calories per glass. Try to alternate every glass of booze you consume with a glass of water to avoid packing on the pounds.
Alcohol activates hormones that increase our appetites. If you’re the party host, try party punch recipes that replace alcohol with fruit juices or club sodas. If you do serve alcohol, be sure to offer healthy vegetable or protein-rich appetizers to make sure your guests are nibbling nutritious foods.
You don’t have to forfeit all of those tasty traditions this holiday season. Follow these healthy eating tips to help you stay on track and enjoy the celebrations.
It’s natural to feel guilty about eating all that office Christmas candy that shows up once a year. So dump that inner negative voice and give yourself permission to indulge and welcome the New Year on a happy note.
Don’t forget you can always find more healthy living tips on our blog like this article on a New Year’s weight loss cleanse that will help you start the new year right.