The holidays are coming, and you know what that means - FOOD. From Thanksgiving feasts that have you adjusting the notches on your belt to cakes and cookies at every Christmas party, it’s hard to keep to a healthy eating and dieting program when there are temptations are seemingly at every turn.
While it can be tricky to maintain your weight loss or even continue losing during the holiday season, it’s not impossible. You just need a plan! Moreover, you can achieve your goals without feeling deprived or sitting out your favorite holiday traditions.
Here are five of our favorite strategies for keeping the pounds at bay during the most festive time of year.
It’s just not Christmas without a slice of grandma’s German sweet chocolate cake, and Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a heaping helping of mashed potatoes and gravy. Go for it! Prioritize your calorie spend for the splurges you don’t want to live without and enjoy them without the guilt.
One serving or even a full meal won’t derail your efforts, and you won’t feel deprived by avoiding all of your annual favorites. Just make sure that a splurge is a splurge and then you go back to eating your usual healthy meals. Knowing that you’ll get to enjoy your absolute favorites will help you feel good about making better choices the rest of time and avoid eating everything in sight.
Whatever your family food favorites, there is probably a healthier, lower sugar, lower calories and lower carb version that tastes equally as tantalizing. If you’re uncomfortable carrying your food to family gatherings, host them yourself.
Then you’re free to prepare whatever dishes you want, and the odds are good nobody else will be none the wiser. If you’re not ready to host an entire dinner or party, then bring a low calorie, healthy dish to your upcoming parties. Then, you’ll at least have one side dish you can eat.
The holidays are no excuse to slack off on your workouts - and shopping doesn’t count. While your schedule may seem jam-packed with activities, holiday parties and last-minute shopping trips, you can still squeeze in a half hour workout most days of the week. Take a walk on your lunch break.
Hit the gym after work. Write it down on your daily to-do list like you would any other important appointment, and don’t break it. If it’s too chilly to head outdoors, there are plenty of indoor videos and weight-bearing workouts you can do right in your own home.
While those holiday cocktails may be tempting, it’s easy to consume tons of extra calories and sugar when you’re enjoying a few drinks. Not only are the drinks themselves often full of empty calories and added sugar, but once you’ve got a little alcohol in your system, your inhibitions may go out the window when it comes to snacks and sweets as well.
It’s okay to have one cocktail during a party but leave it at that. You can also find low calories, low sugar cocktails if you want to have a little extra. Ask for virgin if you're going to keep your alcohol consumption lower to avoid snacking under the influence. Another tactic? Drink plenty of water!
Not only will drinking water before meals and happy hour prevent you from over-consuming high-calorie food and drink, but alcohol dehydrates you, so it’s important to replenish what you’re losing throughout the evening.
Keep in mind that everyone overindulges every now and again. Eating one meal that pushes you over your calorie limits for the day is not going to derail your entire program. Enjoy your splurge and move on.
Get right back on your plan the following meal and give yourself a little grace to indulge now and then. That said, don’t use the holidays as an excuse for a free for all. A cheat meal now and again is one thing. A cheat season is something else entirely. Keep your goals in mind and navigating the holiday goodies will be that much easier.
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