With the holidays now upon us, you may be feeling slightly anxious about what this means for your healthy eating plan. Up until now, chances are, you’ve been making sure to focus on putting only nutrient dense foods in your body – foods that go along with your goals to build muscle and burn fat.
But with the holidays coming and so many goodies you know will be too hard to resist, does it mean your diet is about to go out the window?
Not necessarily. There are a few strategies that you can use to help keep up your efforts, without having to feel deprived the entire season. The last thing you want to do is turn into scrooge because you aren’t allowing yourself any of the festive treats.
Here’s how to make it work.
The first thing you must do is make sure that you are planning ahead as often as possible. If you know you have a big office party coming up where they will be serving delicious Chinese food – without a lot of healthy options – cut back on your calorie intake for the rest of your meals during the day to build in some ‘wiggle’ room in your plan. This way, if you do eat a few more calories at that buffet table, it won’t be the end of the world. Your end-of-day total calorie intake should still line up.
This doesn’t mean you should starve yourself in the hours leading up to the event, but do eat smaller serving sizes than normal and consider cutting back on how many carbs and fats you consume.
Focus On ‘Lean And Green’
The next trick to use as you forge your way through the holidays is to focus most on eating ‘lean and green’. Meaning, put more emphasis on getting a lean source of protein along with some vegetables with each meal that you consume. Then be flexible to allow your carbs and fats to fall where they may.
This will give you a bit more wiggle room each day as well to treat yourself to a small chocolate without feeling guilty. As long as you’ve met your protein and veggie requirements for the day, you are still reasonably on track.
If you do this and allow yourself a small treat every day or every other day, you won’t feel deprived at all through the holiday season and will be less likely to binge-eat at some point during the month.
Choose To Indulge In Seasonal Items Only
Now let’s talk about those indulgences. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to some food you enjoy as long as you’ve accounted for it in your diet plan and are still making sure the rest of your diet is on track.
But, do your best to stick to only treats that are available at this time of the year. Don’t waste calories on a food that you can get year-round. It just doesn’t make sense to do so.
Chances are there will be an abundance of things that you want to eat this holiday season so why not make it really count? Choose foods that you can’t get any other time and make the most of those. Do this and you’ll enjoy yourself more and you won’t eat as many unhealthy options as you otherwise would have.
Make it your golden rule: holiday items only. This alone can save you thousands of calories over the holiday season.
Remember That Beverages Do Count
Another must-do is to remember that beverage calories do count Too many people go in for glass after glass of eggnog without really thinking about what this is doing to their diet plan.
That eggnog can easily contain a couple hundred calories per cup, so could set you back in a major way. If you are then indulging in food treats as well, you’ve just blown your diet.
Before going into any party or meal, decide first for yourself: food or beverages. You can only indulge in one so make that decision going in and stick with it.
If you’re someone who loves a good cocktail with friends while visiting, this may be preferable than a Christmas truffle to satisfy your chocolate fix. Everyone has their preferences so learn yours and use it to guide you.
Come Up With Smarter Replacements
It’s also a good idea to come up with some smarter replacements for some of the treats that you may have your eye on. For instance, take that eggnog. If this is your favorite beverage of the season and you don’t think you can go without many glasses, consider preparing your own healthier variety. You can make one using lower fat milk, stevia rather than sugar, and rum extract rather than real rum.
While it won’t be the exact same of course, it may still do the trick in getting your craving taken care of. Then you can indulge in one or two glasses of the real thing and combined, it shouldn’t set you back too far.
Likewise, at the holiday dinner, you can make some smarter swaps here as well. Try mashed sweet potatoes rather than regular and prepare a brown rice stuffing outside of the turkey rather than the traditional bread-based stuffing prepared inside the bird.
All these little swaps will add up and lead to big results.
Check out more recipes and ideas in our recent article Christmas Swaps: Eat Right With These Smart (Yet TASTY!) Recipes
Set Realistic Goals
Finally, check your goals and make sure that they’re realistic. If you are currently on a weight loss plan, it may not be a wise move to try and continue to see the same accelerated rate of results that you are seeing right now. Instead, move to the goal of simply maintaining your weight over the holidays.
If you have a more realistic goal in place, you won’t face frustration when things aren’t going quite your way and won’t be as likely to throw in the towel entirely.
Remember all you can give is your best effort – nothing more.
So there you have the top tips to stick with your diet and nutrition plan this holiday season. With a little pre-planning, there is no reason to be anxious about the weeks
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