I love the holidays! It’s a time to gather with loved ones to share time, laughter, and almost always food. That’s right. More often than not, holiday gatherings don’t just revolve around food; in fact, food is the star of the show. With indulgent appetizers, hearty meals, and irresistible desserts within reach, it can be hard to feel in control. The holidays can be a tough time for anyone trying to stick to their fitness and nutrition goals.
When guilt creeps in, it can make it hard to fully enjoy the holidays and all that they bring. Check out the 9 tips below, designed to give you the power to stay on track and reduce guilt, and enjoy the holiday season without regret.
1. Follow the 80/20 Rule
Don’t be too hard on yourself. You don’t have to be perfect all the time to stay healthy. In fact, many nutrition experts agree that making healthy, whole food choices 80% of the time, and having a cheat meal or treat 20% of the time is one way to make your diet realistic and sustainable while remaining healthy. Following the 80/20 rule, there’s room to indulge in your favorite holiday foods while keeping in balance with your overall goals.
2. Choose Quality Treats
Don’t waste calories on treats you don’t even really like. A slice of Domino’s pizza here, a pack of your kid’s fruit snacks there can really add up. Unless you actually love these items and want to make them a part of that 20% of your diet reserved for treats, curb the snacking! Learn to say “no” so that you can save up those calories for a treat snack or meal worth waiting for - like a slice of cheesecake, or a heartier meal such as holiday dinner with your family.
3. Find Lighter Alternatives for Cravings
A lot of the things that we like to eat can be easily lightened up. Instead of butter, consider cooking with healthier fats like olive oil, or avocado oil, etc. Instead of using heavy cream, opt for a lighter milk. Rather than eating a big bowl of pasta, make a spaghetti squash as a lighter carb alternative. There are so many healthier options out there now more than ever before, make use of them when you can!
4. Eat Lighter Earlier in the Day
If you’re planning on that big turkey dinner, or holiday feast, eat lighter and healthier earlier in the day to save up calories for the main event. Take this a step further and consider what you’re eating at the big meal (if you have an idea). Fit in nutrients in your earlier meals that you might miss later. A lot of holiday meals are often pretty void of fruits or vegetables, so make a point to get those in during breakfast or lunch.
5. Eat a Healthy Snack Before the Party
Before heading to a party, eat a healthy snack at home first. When you’re hungry, you’re more susceptible to overindulging, especially with appetizers and delicious treats within reach. Eating a snack prior to the party will help curb your hunger and keep you more mindful about your choices.
6. Limit Alcohol Consumption
It’s easy to go a little overboard on the alcohol consumption, especially with all of that holiday spirit in the air. But extra calories from drinks can add up quickly. Either offer to be the designated driver (which gets you off the hook from even contemplating drinking), or limit yourself to one or two drinks.
7. Stay Active
Throughout the winter season, it’s so easy to fall off your fitness routine. Set aside time in your daily schedule for your fitness routine and stick with it. There will always be days where your workout just doesn’t seem viable - inclement weather changes your plans, or you’re not feeling up to your workout for the day.
Rather than cancelling your workout, adjust your workout. If you are forced inside due to weather, check out our workout videos on the Sunny Health & Fitness YouTube Channel. If you aren’t feeling up to the original workout you had planned for the day go for a 30-minute brisk walk, do some yoga, or mix it up and play a game with your kids at the park. Something is always better than nothing, and it’ll be a whole lot easier riding that momentum into doing something active the next day.
8. Exercise Before Big Meals
On days when you know there will be a big meal involved (or you’re expecting your aunt to produce her infamous pecan pie, and there’s no other option but eating a slice or two), make a point of working out that morning. Wake up before everyone else to go on a solitary walk or run. Or, get your family involved, and start a new tradition of doing something active together before kicking off the festivities. Trust me, you will feel much better about that big meal after getting your daily dose of exercise.
9. Let Go and Enjoy
While there are so many things you can do to prepare and set yourself up for success during the holidays, sometimes that food guilt comes creeping in anyways. When we have our sights set on a goal, it can be hard to let that goal go, even for one night. It’s important to put everything back into perspective. One meal isn’t going to change your progress towards your goal, especially if you’re already regularly living a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
My biggest piece of advice this holiday season is to make whatever choice you’re going to make, and then let it go. If you’re going to eat the extra cookie, do it without regret (enjoy it even), and move on.
Overall, it’s important to remember that a big part of your health comes from being at peace with yourself and your body. It may be difficult to break out of the cycle of being at war with your body and feeling guilty for every little indulgence. It’s important to notice that cycle when it begins to occur, and mindfully break out of it. Afterall, your body is the only one you have. So, remember to love your body, be kind to it, and enjoy this holiday season.