Let’s face it, it is hard to stick to a healthy eating and exercise plan during the holidays. Everywhere we turn there are tempting foods and drinks—from treats at office parties to our own traditional family favorites. Hello sweet potato pie! When you add in a busy schedule filled with shopping, family gatherings and get-togethers with friends, it can be tough to squeeze in exercise.
The good news is that you don’t have to forgo your favorite holiday foods. There is room for a little indulgence at a holiday feast! The secret is to have a plan as we head into the holiday season. By staying on top of both your calorie intake and your physical activity, you can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and emerge on the other side just as fit as you are now.
Your Goal During the Holidays: Maintenance
You want to enjoy the holidays, not be miserable from deprivation. This means that you will allow yourself occasional treats and splurges, but also maintain as much of your daily eating and exercise routine as possible. Here are some ways you can do just that:
- Look at the big picture. Keep up with how you’re eating during the several days surrounding the holidays. It’s not a good idea to indulge at every opportunity that presents itself. If you splurge heavily one day, take it easy the next.
- Plan your meals. If you know that you are going to be having some heavy, celebratory meals in the upcoming days, limit your intake at other meals to help keep your diet balanced out. Don’t skip meals, but make them lighter and be sure to include plenty of healthy, lower calorie foods. For instance, if you are going to have a big lunch, eat a smaller breakfast and dinner.
- Monitor your hunger. Never show up at a party or buffet ravenous—you will most certainly overeat. Drink water and have a protein-filled snack (such as nuts or cheese) before arriving. This will help you to have more self-control around the temptations.
- Check your portion size. If you have an idea of how much food you are putting on your plate, you will be less likely to overdo it. Take a look at the chart to familiarize yourself with portion sizes as they compare to your hand.
- Keep a food diary. Write down every single thing you eat—even if it is only one bite of shrimp cocktail. Keeping a food journal makes you aware of how everything you eat affects your fitness and/or weight control goals.
- Keep moving. The last thing you need this time of year is a slowed-down metabolism. Staying active is a great way to give your body a fighting chance to negotiate the extra calories you will be consuming. Even moderate intensity workouts can burn 300-400 calories per hour. You will also be less likely to overindulge if you have just sweated through a hard workout!
- Get an accountability partner. Sound scary? It’s supposed to! Let others know what your goals are and check in with them. Knowing that you are accountable to someone else will have you thinking twice before skipping that next workout.
You can survive the holidays without regrets. Remember these tips and keep a vision of what you want to feel like when you accomplish your goals. It’s going to be a great holiday season!