9 Holiday Eating Survival Guide Tips
By Tina PaymasterWith the weather cooling down and the holidays approaching, thoughts of pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and warm, rich casseroles may be spinning through your head. We all know that deprivation is not the key to sustaining a healthy lifestyle. This only leads to weekend and late night binging on sugary, fried, indulgent foods. So how does one stay on track with their health without having to avoid all of the holiday festivities? Below are a few tips on how you can still enjoy your apple pie and still keep your metabolism and health in check.
1. Create a game planYou would rarely go on a road trip without a GPS or some type of plan. If you want to get to your destination in time, you need to know how you’re going to get there. Before the holidays approach, take some time to assess how many events/parties you will be attending and where you can create some balance. Take a look at the tips below and create your own Healthy Holiday Game Plan.
2. Don’t go to a party starvingHave you ever deprived yourself all day in an effort to save up extra room for the huge dinner awaiting you at the end of the day? While your intentions may be good, this approach is actually a recipe for disaster. When the body isn’t getting enough food or enough of the right types of foods, it will tend to hold onto fat. When your body is in this “survival” mode, energy will tend to be low too, which will cause cravings for sugar and other fatty, rich foods. Another important point to consider is that digestion and metabolism slow down at the end of the day, so saving most of your calories for that evening holiday buffet will only lead to digestive distress and potential weight gain. Instead, eat a balanced and clean diet during the day and even consider having a light snack before your dinner so you aren’t B-lining it for the hor’deourves table as soon as you get to the party.
3. Be in the right place…Hanging out near the appetizers and buffet table more often than not will lead to overeating. The hand-to-table-to-mouth action can quickly become part of normal conversation and before you know it, you need to sit down because you’ve eaten too much. If this is a common issue for you, take a plate, put some food on it and guide your conversations away from the food.
4. Load up on the good stuff firstSo all the present wrapping made you forget to eat and now you’re famished, ready to eat anything and everything in your path. While veggies and hummus may not seem as appetizing as the loaded 7-layer bean dip, it will calm down your hunger pangs and allow you the freedom to still enjoy some of the richer foods without the likelihood of overindulging in them. As an added tip, eating more healthy fat and protein will help to reduce sugar cravings often brought on by eating to much refined carbohydrates.
5. Create an end of meal ritualThis is one of my favorite tips for avoiding overeating during the holidays. Instead of reaching for that second helping of pecan pie or that fourth glass of cabernet, think of another way to end your meal. Maybe it’s brushing your teeth or chewing on a piece of mint gum or even sipping on some naturally sweet herbal tea like cinnamon tea or licorice tea. Maybe it’s taking a walk. Come up with a few ideas and see what works for you.
6. Make your metabolism more efficientAside from overindulging in rich, high calorie foods, another reason so many people experience weight gain and sluggishness during the holidays is because of an inefficient metabolism. I often hear, “I’ll start on my diet and exercise plan AFTER the holidays.” While, this allows room for more dietary freedom,, it can put your metabolism into a much worse state than you started. Instead, right now is actually the ideal time to start conditioning your metabolism to become more efficient at burning fat so that it will be able to burn through those heavy holiday foods more efficiently and bounce back more quickly. At PHASE IV, we use scientific testing, like the Resting Metabolic Rate Test and VO2 Test to assess the state of your metabolism and create personalized nutrition and training programs to maximize your metabolism’s efficiency.
7. Get out of the “All or Nothing” mentalityStaying healthy during the holidays doesn’t have to be so black and white. Instead of looking at the holidays as a time to fall completely off the wagon, use this time as an opportunity to create healthier habits. Don’t look at one indulgent meal as an excuse to throw in the towel and start fresh in the New Year. Allow yourself some flexibility, but create balance as well. For example, if you had a heavy brunch, don’t waste energy on feeling guilty or think “Well, might as well eat whatever I want the rest of the day.” Instead, commit to a workout that morning and choose lighter foods that won’t stress out your digestive system for the rest of the day.
8. Change your languageInstead of using language like “I can’t have that,” put yourself in the driver’s seat and change your language to “I don’t want that,” reminding yourself that making healthier decisions is a choice…your choice. You will feel much more empowered and confident in your decisions and more likely to stick to healthier ones.
9. Find other ways to have funThe holidays don’t have to always be about the booze and the food. While old traditions are great, creating new ones can just as memorable. Consider involving friends or family in hikes, 5k/10k races, cooking a healthy meal together or participating in volunteer opportunities. You may discover that you satisfy your cravings in much healthier ways!
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