How to Navigate the Holidays with Health / Weight loss Goals
Navigating the holidays while sticking to a diet can be challenging due to the abundance of tempting treats, social gatherings, and disruptions to regular routines. However, with a few strategies in place, you can enjoy the festive season and still maintain your health and/or weight loss goals. Here are some tips:
If you know you'll be attending a party or dinner, plan your meals for the day accordingly. If you anticipate a big dinner, eat lighter meals earlier in the day, but make sure that you include lean protein, a little healthy fat, and fiber to help regulate both blood sugar levels and appetite.
Consider offering to bring a dish to gatherings. This ensures there will be at least one item you can enjoy in support of your goals.
Don’t Skip Meals:
Skipping meals can result in drops in blood sugar levels as well as excessive hunger.
Doing this increases the likelihood of overeating later in the day as well as making less-healthy choices.
Instead, start the day off with adequate protein, healthy fat, and complex carbs, and prioritize lean proteins and veggies with your other, regular meals.
At Holiday gatherings, try to make sure that you include protein.
Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and fats and helps regulate appetite. This can make it easier to control portions of the sweet treats because you won’t have to rely on them to fill you up!
If there are veggie appetizers or dishes, these are another great way to help you feel satisfied!
Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues. Eat slowly and savor each bite, which can help you recognize when you're satisfied.
Try to sit away from the buffet or food table at parties to avoid mindless grazing.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Sometimes our bodies can confuse thirst with hunger.
If you're consuming alcoholic beverages, alternate with glasses of water. This can help reduce overall alcohol and calorie intake and keep you hydrated.
Use smaller plates to naturally reduce portion sizes.
If you want to sample various dishes, take a small amount of each to avoid overindulgence.
Completely avoiding favorite holiday treats can lead to feelings of deprivation and eventual overeating. Instead, allow yourself small portions of your most-loved holiday foods and enjoy them mindfully.
If there are food items that you often eat just because they are there, skip those so that you can really enjoy what you love!
Keep up with your exercise routine as much as possible. If you can't do your regular workout, even a short walk or some at-home exercises can help.
Incorporate physical activities into your holiday celebrations, like a post-meal walk or a dance-off during a party.
Alcoholic drinks can add a lot of extra calories and lower inhibitions, leading to increased food intake. Choose lighter beverages, dilute drinks with club soda or water, or set a limit for yourself.
Lack of sleep can disrupt hunger hormones and lead to increased appetite and cravings. Ensure you're getting enough rest during the holiday season.
The holidays can be a stressful time. Find healthy ways to cope, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, journaling, or talking to a friend.
Share your dietary goals with a trusted friend or family member. They can help remind you of your intentions during moments of temptation.
Consider keeping a food diary or using a food tracking app to maintain awareness of your intake. The goal here is not to focus on restricting or staying within an unhealthy calorie goal, but instead, just to make you more aware of what you’re putting in your body.
Be Kind to Yourself:
If you overindulge, avoid negative self-talk. Give yourself grace! Every meal is a new opportunity to make healthier choices. Remember that one day of indulgence won't derail your overall goals.
Don’t Restrict after Over-indulging:
If you overindulge, you might feel tempted to try to restrict caloric intake for the rest of the day or eat much less the following day. This can backfire. Restriction often means that you are ignoring your body’s natural hunger cues which can then result in over-indulgence again because we are human and we get hungry!
Instead, for your next meal, prioritize lean protein and lots of fiber-rich veggies to keep you satisfied. As always, include a little healthy fat and complex carb to support satiety and blood sugar regulation.
Shift Your Focus onto What Matters:
Remember that the holidays are about more than just food. Focus on spending quality time with loved ones, creating memories, and enjoying traditions.
Those are the things that will be important when you look back years from now.
Sticking to a diet during the holidays requires a balance of preparation, mindfulness, and self-compassion. With these strategies, you can navigate the festive season with confidence and enjoy it to the fullest.
Here are some healthy appetizers to serve or bring with you to a Holiday party:
Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip. This is a wonderful option when you don’t have time to cook. The clever swap of Greek yogurt for sour cream in this recipe is an easy way to boost protein and calcium! Serve with veggies for a high-fiber, high protein app!
Sweet Potato Crostini with Spiced Ricotta. Crostinis are usually made with crusty bread but this ups the nutrient value by using potassium and fiber-rich sweet potatoes! The ricotta provides a little bit of protein and the spices will certainly make you feel like it’s Holiday Season. Feel free to reduce the sugar in the cranberries, though the amount per serving isn’t excessive. 🙂
Chicken Shawarma Pita Pizzas. Swap the regular pita for whole wheat or gluten free if needed. To make this an appetizer rather than a meal, just cut it into smaller pieces. This is a great go-to if you’re not sure what the food situation will be like and you need to ensure that you’ll have something to fill you up! This packs protein, healthy fat, and a complex carb if you opt for a whole wheat pita.
Blackened Shrimp Avocado Cucumber Bites. These pack protein, healthy fats, and veggies in one! Avocado has potassium which supports blood pressure regulation. If you bring these, I’d double the recipe, as they are sure to be a crowd-favorite!