Holidays should never be about deprivation and sacrifice, but they also shouldn't be about gluttony. Unfortunately in the season of parties and dinners, excess is very often the name of the game.
There’s a lot going on during the holidays, so the name of the game is to keep it simple. "Outside of holiday dinners or cocktail parties, it should be business as usual without any extreme changes to your normal healthy routine," says Claire Siegel, Lead Registered Dietitian for Snap Kitchen. Don’t spend the day starving yourself in anticipation of a holiday dinner, as that’ll lead to an inevitable binge once the turkey’s on the table. On the flip side, knowing that you might have an indulgent evening meal doesn’t mean you should go overboard the rest of the day. Here are more tips to keep you strong in the face of that third mug of eggnog.
1. Focus on balanced meals
These are meals made up of complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fat leading up to the big event. "For breakfast, try something like overnight oats, which can be prepared the night before. At lunch, fill up half your plate with veggies, a quarter with protein,, and the remaining quarter with some sort of complex carb. When it comes to the holiday meal, try a little bit of everything that looks good to you," says Siegel. Eat slowly, enjoy every bite, and stop when you’re satisfied, not stuffed. Health is all about making good choices with the occasional indulgence, not all out deprivation.
2. Eat BEFORE you go to your holiday party.
Investing in a small snack will keep hunger at bay and keep you from eating everything in sight when you get to the party. “A string cheese with a piece of fruit is the perfect combination of protein and fiber and should keep you from making bad decisions while under the influence of hunger!” says Alix Turoff, MS, RD of Top Balance Nutrition in New York City.
3. Earn your cocktails
We don't want to get in the habit of thinking that we can burn off everything we eat but the holiday season is NOT the time to skip your workout. “You can't spend money that you don't have in the bank and the same thing goes for calories. "Earn" a few extra calories by adding in an extra workout or two or even extending your regular workouts by 10-15 minutes,” says Turoff.
4. If you're invited to a party, ask the host what you can bring
If she says an appetizer, bring a salad that you can fill your plate with, suggests Turoff. If she asks for dessert, bring fresh fruit or find a light dessert recipe!
5. Imbibe carefully
Opt for red or white wine, prosecco or spirits on the rocks or with a calorie free mixer. “Use seltzer to dilute your drink or set a limit to how many drinks you plan to have. A 5 ounce glass of wine is 120 calories, a cocktail made with 1.5 ounces of vodka with club soda and a splash of cranberry juice has 110 calories. One bottle of hard cider has 210 calories and one bottle of pale ale has 175 calories. Don't be fooled by tonic! It has as much sugar and calories as soda,” says Turoff.
6. Eat everything but not everything at once.
Chances are you'll be attending plenty of holiday parties, so there's no reason that you have to store up on food for the season. “Pick one indulgence per party and practice mindful eating. If you're going for a dessert, make sure that you pay attention, rather than scarf it down standing up. You're investing a lot of calories and you want to make sure you remember it!” says Turoff. Enjoy each bite, guilt free!
7. Cut out sugar and refined carbohydrates
You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel! "More energy, decreased inflammation, and all the weight loss benefits. Start bumping up the cardio to shed some extra pounds. Even if you’re traveling, there is no excuse not to get a killer workout in," says Anna Kaiser is a fitness expert, celebrity trainer and founder of AKT.
8. Get a massage
Get some spa time in post work to help you relax, recover, and get a good night’s sleep. "Getting your zzzz’s is essential for weightloss, keeping stress in check, and to help your muscles recover so you can kick up the intensity of your workout without overdoing it. After the massage, try drinking 2-4 .oz of tart cherry juice before bed to help you snooze," says Kaiser.
9. Switch up your workout
If you are used to working out in the morning, try doing it in the evening before dinner, or vice versa. "This will help challenge your body at a time it’s not used to working out and rev up your results. If you’re a die hard, go for a double one day per week!" says Kaiser.