What is the biggest challenge during the holidays?
I bet eating healthy is definitely in your top five. It may even be numero uno. It’s not like it’s a 2-day eating frenzy: once at Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas. Truth is it just seems to roll on for a good six weeks, starting with turkey and ending with the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve.
The more holiday parties, the more tempted and worried you may be that all of your hard health work will be ruined.
It’s true, party food can be super tempting, and it can derail all of your good intentions but here’s the good news: you’re much more in control than you might think and there’s plenty you can do to stay on track and still have fun.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is THE missing link for so many things we struggle with…the amount of food we consume is one of them. OK, so on paper, you might not think that the amount of sleep you get the night before matters too much. In reality, a bad night’s sleep can mean that you eat hundreds more calories the next day. That’s right…hundreds more calories. That’s more than a stray cookie or a piece of pie. So, make your night before the party your night in. Go to bed early so you can enjoy your night out and lower your risk of feeling ravenous, standing at the food bar eating all the things.
Don’t turn up hungry at parties
Mistake number two. Eating little (or nothing!) before you go out this holiday season, think again! You might assume you’ll be “saving” your calories for later but you’re more likely to be giving yourself the green light to eat a lot more than you intended.
You know the drill. You’ve been there before. Just like going to the grocery store while you’re hungry means more junk food in your basket, a bigger grocery bill, and a negative impact on your food choices. The same is true about why you don’t want to show up to holiday parties on an empty stomach.
Sure, it’s fine to leave a bit of room for festive food but you definitely don’t want to be ravenous when you turn up. This is a surefire recipe for wanting to eat everything in sight!
Eating a filling snack around 20 to 30 minutes before you leave home can be super helpful for stopping you from snacking at the party. Be mindful of your snack choice. Make it a healthy one.
Don’t restrict yourself
Tempted to eat less or work out more in the run-up to a holiday party? This can work against you as you’re more likely to overeat when you get there. Your body knows the routine and so do you. Stick to your normal eating and fitness plans and try to make good food choices.
Go for healthier options
If there’s a mix of healthy and not-so-healthy choices at the buffet table, then mix it up and that way you’re not having the mental battle of “blowing” all your progress.
Spot some crudités? Grab a handful. They’ll help to fill you up and won’t pile on the calories. Just make sure that you don’t dunk them in high-calorie dips that are also likely to be loaded with fat too. Guacamole or hummus are good choices but most other dips will be a calorie bomb.
Research suggests that you’ll eat more calories on your first trip to the buffet table so you can do yourself a big favor if you go for healthier and low-calorie options this round.
It takes around 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know that you’re full…20 minutes. In that time, you could easily have eaten the equivalent of a meal without even thinking about it.
Taking a more mindful approach to your eating can help to avoid this. To start things off, go for small helpings of the party food you really want and savor eating them. Small bites and chewing your food thoroughly can be super helpful for this.
When you’re done, distract yourself for a bit. Work the room and talk with other party guests to stop mindless snacking. Check-in with yourself 20 minutes later to see if you’re really still hungry. Chances are, you’ll find that you’re not.
Don’t forget about liquid calories
Yes, Virginia, they count too. It’s not all about what you put on your plate. Liquid calories also count and they can add up faster than you think.
Alcohol and soda are empty calories and don’t add nutritional value at all.
Be mindful of what you drink and what it’s contributing to your overall health goals. Try drinking a glass of water in between your other drinks.
Sit away from the buffet
If standing around and eating, because it’s something that you do mindlessly, then don’t sit or stand anywhere near the buffet. Truth is, if the food is within reach, there’s so much more potential for mindless snacking even when you’re not at all hungry. The further away you are, the more you have to make a conscious decision to walk over to the buffet, and the more likely you are to focus on the people you’re spending your holiday with.
Enjoy the holidays, the parties and all the things, but choose wisely. Then you won’t wake up on January 2nd feeling like you have to start all over again.
Wishing health & hugs this holiday season.