How to Stay on Track During the Holidays
Here’s why you should ditch the diet during the holidays and use these tips instead.
It’s tempting. Follow a strict plan straight through and beyond New Year's so you don’t gain any weight, or even better, you actually lose some this year. While following a diet during the holidays sounds like a good idea (or does it?), here’s why you should ditch the diet altogether. And since we’re telling you to forget about dieting, here’s our best tips for maintaining your weight and making the best of the holiday season.
Why You Should Not Diet Through the Holidays
Let’s face it – dieting is not fun. Foregoing your favorite foods for what’s considered most healthy for your body and your goals. And when the holidays hit, the temptation for sweets, decadent drinks, and heavy meals is tenfold. Let’s not forget about all the holiday shopping, prepping, baking, and social events – time is not on your side.
But that’s the problem – trying to diet through the holidays, or at all for that matter, is one of the worst things you can do for your body and your goals. Restricting yourself from all that encompasses the holiday season (eating, drinking, and being merry), is a recipe for binging on all of those same things, and then some. What’s the harm in shifting your focus for a few weeks from losing weight to simply maintaining or better yet, enjoying yourself this holiday season.
This is in no way the green light to stuff yourself silly, because doing that will only make you feel sick. Instead, put dieting on pause and commit to eating things you want and leaving the rest.
6 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays
1. Give Yourself Permission to Eat
Part of diet culture is restricting yourself from certain foods or food groups. And when you feel restricted, or like you can’t have the foods you enjoy, all of a sudden, the cravings for those foods become more prevalent. And when you can’t take it anymore, one bite turns into a free-for-all. You’d have eaten less had you allowed yourself a portion of whatever you had been craving from the beginning.
First and foremost, let go of food rules and give yourself permission to eat. You’ll be surprised at how removing restrictions leads to less cravings. Focus on these mantras:
- There are no “good” or “bad” foods, just healthy and less healthy
- There are no off-limits foods
Instead, use the 80/20 rule. Make 80% of your meals nutritious, and the remaining 20% foods you enjoy most. Allowing wiggle room means you can eat the foods you love while working towards your healthy body goals.
2. Plan Ahead
With so many social events on the calendar this month, it’s important to look ahead before diving into whatever sounds good in the moment. Look ahead at your calendar for the week and take note of any special dinners or holiday parties. If you feel like those are places you’d like to enjoy less nutritious food and drinks, make it a point to prepare more healthy foods at home the rest of the time.
3. Don’t Skip Meals or Snacks
Here’s a quick tip to avoid overeating at parties and gatherings: Aim to eat something every 3-4 hours.
Skipping meals or snacks leading up to a big holiday dinner most often works against you. That’s because you’re so ravenous by the time you actually get to the food that you have less control over what and how much you eat.
Instead, stick to your regular nutritious routine throughout the day so you don’t go to the party hungry.
Learn more about healthy snack alternatives in our Protein Powder User's Guide.
4. Focus on Portions
It’s true, there are no good or bad foods, but portions are still important. Remember to serve yourself appropriate portions of the foods you love and leave the rest. If you’re still feeling hungry after you’ve finished your meal, opt for a glass of water before going in for seconds.
5. Make Time for Movement
Exercise has a way of helping you may healthier choices. If you’ve got a month of holiday parties, cookies, and cocktails coming up, make it a point to schedule workouts into your week too. Even a stroll through the neighborhood to scope out Christmas lights counts as movement, and it’s a memorable time too.
6. The Bottom Line
Focus on enjoying yourself this holiday season but listen to your body. If you’re hungry, you should eat. And when you’re full, it’s time to stop. Remember, the food will be there tomorrow, and you could probably take home some leftovers. The most important tip of all – be gentle on yourself. If you’ve overeaten tonight, learn from it and move on. Get back to your healthy eating at the next meal. Beating yourself up over eating isn’t going to make it better but forgiving yourself will.
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