It’s the holiday season and eating healthy for the holidays often goes out the window. And if you’re not careful, by the end of December you’ll find yourself standing on the scale 10 lbs heavier than you were in October.
So…would you rather…
Splurge and ditch eating healthy for the holidays or…feel better emotionally and physically in the long run?
I’ve got 9 tips for eating healthy for the holidays, that will guarantee you won’t gain weight. Plus, it will set you up for a January that’s more enjoyable and will help you to simplify life.
9 Tips for Healthy Choices
1. Decide before you go.
Before you even go to a party or family gathering, know the menu ahead of time. Decide what you will eat instead of what you won’t eat.
I’ve found that if I focus on what I will eat, I am more successful at sticking to my plan.
Next, share it with someone, like your spouse or a friend and ask them to check on you. This adds in accountability—to help you stick to what you decided to do.
2. Have a specific plan.
My plan focuses on portion control and what type of foods I will eat.
To help with portions, I usually choose a smaller plate if I can. Like a kid’s plate. Then I map out my plate into quadrants.
50% of my plate is non–starchy vegetables, 25% healthy vegetable or animal proteins, 25% starch or whole grains, and dessert is a side of low–glycemic fruit.
3. Choose clean non starchy vegetables.
Fill most of your plate, like half, with clean non starchy vegetables. Clean meaning—the closest to fresh. Skip the caramelized brussel sprouts and opt for steamed broccoli instead. Brussel sprouts are still non starchy, but the better choice is steamed.
What if your family doesn’t tend to eat vegetables? Bring your own—either a side, or a tossed salad. Just bring something.
4. Add a lean protein.
Make sure you have at least 4 oz. of lean protein on your plate. Protein is the building blocks of cells. Do you remember that from science class? It’s important to include protein in you diet.
Some choices include fish, chicken, or lean meat. Your husband will need closer to 6 oz., but often one of the struggles men have is that they load up on the meat, while we women tend to skimp on the protein.
In my everyday routine, I start my day with an 8 oz. low–glycemic, organic, energizing soy protein shake with Almond milk.
5. Include a starch or whole grain.
Add a starch or a whole grain to round out the last 1/4 of your plate—think carrots, green peas, or sweet potatoes, or quinoa.
Something to note here—your body is unique to you and there are some things that you’ll start to notice sit well with you or actually cause bloating—or inflammation.
For me, it’s certain types of quinoa. So I usually don’t eat that for my whole grain.
6. Choose a low–glycemic fruit for dessert.
Low–glycemic fruit—generally any type of berry—is your best choice for dessert. 1 serving typically is 1/2 cup to 1 cup.
7. Be choosy with classic desserts.
You don’t really have to skip the classic desserts. The key is to limit how much you eat.
Cut your portion into smaller pieces.
Instead of a 1 piece of pie, think of it as a tiny sliver of pie. Share bites with your husband—we do this! Also, if you have multiple parties—pick just 1 party where you know someone will bring your favorite classic dessert. Eat your favorite at that party—not every party!
8. Just add water.
One trick to eating less at parties is to increase your daily water intake.
Generally, recommendations are to drink six to eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day. This is a good idea—and if you drink 2 to 4 oz. an hour, it’s totally do–able. It helps to always have a water bottle with you. (I like this one…from Amazon.)
Another suggestion is to actually start your meal with a glass of water to quench your appetite. If however you really want to see that weight move, I’ve got a little secret for you.
Drink 2/3 of your body weight in water daily.
In other words, if your weight is around 175 lbs., then you would multiply that by 2/3 and learn that your water intake would be 117 oz. per day.
I actually did this at my doctor’s recommendation and I after months of trying to take off some weight—I finally saw my weight drop.
And I ended up dropping 10 lbs. in a week. Yes, it’s true.
9. Start or continue exercising.
Start or continue exercising. This isn’t a huge thing that you have to do.
In order to maintain your weight, you need to exercise at least 30 minutes a day for 4 to 5 days a week. You don’t have to go crazy here—all it takes is a walk. Did you know…
If you walk at a moderate pace—you can burn about 225 calories in about an hour. (Based on a 150 lb. person)Source: American College of Sports Medicine
Crisp winter walks actually are one of my favorites—especially when it’s really cold and the moon is out after a fresh fallen snow.
If you want to lose some weight, then you’ll need to increase your exercise to between 60 and 90 minutes on exercise days. It can be broken up into three 30 minute segments.
Remember, my doctor said that managing your weight is more about what you eat.
The exercise part has to do more with energizing your body and keeping your body in good working order—your heart, and vascular system.
The Last Best Choice
Okay, so maybe you’ve read all of these tips and think they’re great but they won’t work for you.
I completely understand.
I’ve been to family gatherings where it’s literally just meat and potatoes. The closest thing to a vegetable is green bean casserole or sweet potato casserole—you know where the vegetables are taking a bath in sugar or fat.
There’s been times where there wasn’t even salad!! So what do you do?
Here are your options:
Choose the better options of your choices.
For a primarily meat and potatoes meal—like if there’s turkey or ham—choose turkey. It has less sodium. Or better yet, if there’s baked salmon—choose that.
For your vegetable options—choose the closest to non starchy that you can get. If there’s sweet potatoes versus mashed potatoes—go with the sweet potato. That’s if it’s not drenched in sugar, butter and cinnamon.
Eat before you go.
Often if I have no control over the menu and suspect there will be limited vegetables, I will eat a salad before I go or like I mentioned before—I’ll have an energizing protein shake.
Eating Healthy for the Holidays is the Key to Your Weight
The key to weight is eating healthy for the holidays. It is a change in mindset. And to emphasis it more clearly—it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Even the CDC talks about eating healthy as a lifestyle in Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight.
Think about it this way…
Every year when January comes around, everyone is talking about gym memberships and making exercise your New Years resolution.
But, the truth is that you will never be able to out exercise what you eat. Period.
Exercise needs to be a part of your lifestyle. But the real key to weight loss, and weight gain is directly correlated with what you eat. And don’t forget the little hidden secret I shared—drink more water.