The holidays are great. You get time off, you get to spend it with your family, and you get lots of wonderful food. Unfortunately, if you aren't careful, the food comes with an unwanted side dish. Hitting the gym in January is not going to get it off quickly.
It's better to avoid the post holiday 15 in the first place by being sensible during all that feasting...and don't worry, you don't have to deprive yourself. Here are some of our tips to eat healthy during the holidays.
Especially if there's a buffet. Eating slowly gives your brain time to realize it's full. It also lets you focus on each bite and savor your food intentionally. A little bit goes a long way if you eat slowly.
Eating slowly is particularly important if it's a rare treat, such as your aunt's persimmon pudding. It helps you not go back for seconds or thirds.
Always Use a Plate
It's tempting to just grab another cookie...or whatever...and eat out of your hand. However, this makes it harder to keep track of how much you're eating and control portion size. Using a plate gives you a visual idea of how much you have taken. When you have your plate full, move away from the buffet and sit or stand on the other side of the room. This makes it harder to go back.
Avoid Obligation Eating
Life is too short to eat food you don't love, even if it would make your cousins very happy. Focus on the food you genuinely enjoy. If you aren't sure about something, take a tiny amount so you won't feel bad about wasting it if you find you don't like it after the first bite.
And resign from the clean plate club. Just because you took it does not mean you have to finish it. Don't let anyone guilt trip you into doing so.
Eat Enough Protein
Those holiday foods tend to be heavy on the carbs and low on the protein. Make sure to eat some protein with every meal. It doesn't have to be meat, either, high protein legumes are great. Take a decent serving of turkey or ham, it's fine! Protein helps you feel full and keeps you from eating quite so much sugar and carbohydrates.
If you're going to a party where you know there will be a lot of sweet foods, eat something with protein in it before you leave.
Don't Go To The Party Hungry
It's very tempting to save space for the feast by intentionally starving yourself before a party. Unfortunately, this means your body is going "Feed me now" and you will inevitably end up eating more.
Eat a salad, high protein snack, or light meal before you head out. This will keep you from eating as much and the person throwing the party need never know. Studies have also shown that a large green salad with a light dressing or broth-based vegetable soup is the best thing.
Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories. Add to that the potential embarrassment that can come with over indulging, and it's a good idea to keep your alcohol consumption reasonable. This doesn't mean you can't enjoy a glass of wine with Christmas dinner or that New Years' Eve champagne. It just means to be careful. If you drink beer, then choose a lighter beer if you can. Heavy porters and stouts can contain as many calories as a meal!
No matter how busy the schedule gets, don't skip breakfast. There have been so many studies that show that skipping breakfast just makes you eat more later in the day. Breakfast also gets your metabolism to rev back up after being quiet while you sleep.
Pro tip: Combine breakfast with your protein needs by enjoying sausage or eggs instead of your regular cereal. This will keep you feeling fuller all day.
Reduce your consumption of fizzy drinks and eggnog and drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps keep weight off and stress levels down. Drinking water at the start of the party will also help make you feel fuller.
Watch out for sparkling water, though. It turns out all fizzy drinks make you eat more. Including water. Studies showed that carbonated drinks increase the production of ghrelin, the hormone which triggers hunger, by as much as 50%!
Last, but not least, try to keep up your work out schedule. Or come up with something else to do. Chasing a frisbee with the kids, going for a walk with your family, even enjoying some kind of physical activity with your coworkers.
Staying active not only helps you burn off some of those calories, but it reduces your stress levels. Holiday stress causes us to reach for holiday cookies.
If you need help staying active, contact Merritt Clubs. We aren't just a gym, but offer our free Elevate Program to help you set achievable goals and design a personalized wellness plan to get you through the holidays and the years to come.