The holiday season is here and, for many of us who are tying to eat healthy any holiday can be pretty scary. Chocolates on Valentine’s, 4th of July BBQs, Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts, & Christmas cookies. When you add Birthdays, Anniversaries, family vacations, etc…your healthy diet goals are challenged at least once a month.
I really is possible to enjoy the holidays, not feel super restricted, but still stick with your healthy goals. So, today I want to share my favorite tips for staying healthy during, but still enjoying, any holiday or special occasion.
1. Pick Your Poison: This is the tip that works the best for me. As I am preparing for any special event, I choose ahead of time which special treat is my very favorite and then I indulge in that. For me, it is chocolate covered pretzels on Valentine’s, a snickers at Halloween, and pecan pie on Thanksgiving. These are my favorites and “saving myself” for these special treats makes it easier to say no to all the other junk around me. Why waste calories on candy hearts or pumpkin pie when something I’ll enjoy so much more is waiting for me?
2. Plan Ahead: Just like I decide beforehand which treat I will indulge in on a special day, I find it helpful to think through all my food plans ahead of time. Will bringing a veggie or fruit tray, or even just some fruit flavored water, with you to a party help you avoid munching on junk? Have you checked out the online menu for the restaurant you are heading out to so you can make a smart decision before you are hungry and staring at a menu? Maybe even try picturing yourself avoiding junk and making healthier choices. Planning ahead can help you stay on track.
3. Don’t Skip Meals: Skipping breakfast or lunch before a holiday meal or party may sound like a good idea, but going hungry will just mean you’ll make up for all those missed calories and then some. Instead, choose foods that are low in calories, but high in protein and fiber that will leave you satisfied and able to make better choices.
4. Step Up Your Workout: Add a little extra time or effort to your workout a few days before and a few days after a holiday. The extra calorie burn means you can indulge on the day of without regret.
5. Keep Junk Out of Sight: It’s a cliche saying, but “out of sight, out of mind” really works for me when it comes to avoiding junk food. If I decorate for the holiday with a bowl of treats, I will eat them. So, get rid of that decorative jar of candy hearts or m&ms on your counter or desk and replace it with some non-food decor. Remember, you are “saving yourself” for that favorite treat. 🙂
6. Substitute Healthy Foods: Look for ways in planning and preparing your holiday meals that you can substitute healthier options. Replace high calorie drinks with flavored water, chose baked instead of fried options, and add veggies, fruits and whole grains whenever you can. Again, making these substitutions means you can indulge where it really counts.
7. Celebrate Without Food: So much of the celebrating in our country revolves around food. I’ve been trying to look for traditions I can start in our family for celebrating without food. Choose to give a love letter or flowers instead of chocolates or do a special activity instead of a huge meal.
8. Don’t Overstress It: Nobody is perfect, so please don’t let mistakes ruin all your hard work. Even if you slip-up and eat all the junk in sight on Thanksgiving Day, don’t let it derail you completely. Don’t waste time beating yourself up, just get right back on track. Celebrate the good choices you are making today and don’t worry about the ones you didn’t make yesterday.