Ten Tips for Holiday Eating
By Amina AlTai
It’s the most wonderful time of year! The season for giving, family, indulging and partiesss! We get invites to best parties all over town and want to say yes to them, without sacrificing our hard-earned gains at the gym. So, how do we maintain our healthy lifestyle and attend every dessert-filled, boozy party we’ve been invited to? Here are ten ways you can beat the bloat and make sure you’re everyone’s crush under the mistletoe.
1. PRE-EAT: NEVER ARRIVE HANGRY
Letting your blood sugar dip to lower levels is a surefire way to blow it at the buffet. Eating some carrots and hummus, a handful of nuts or a piece of lean protein beforehand will keep you satiated. It will also provide a nice cushion for those holiday bevies. If you can’t pre-eat, make your first choice a plate of salad or fibrous veggies. These are low-calorie, high-density foods that will make you feel too full to indulge in the more calorie-dense, fattier options.
Much of the time when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually dehydrated. Making sure you are well hydrated is hugely important during the holidays, because it can prevent the urge overeat. Additionally, all those holiday parties might mean a little extra bubbly, so drinking 1-2 glasses of water between alcoholic beverages will help balance the dehydrating effects of alcohol.
3. BE A PICKY EATER
Why is it that we are so picky when it comes to dating, but when it comes to food, most of us have an “anything goes” attitude? Decide which foods you’re going to splurge on this holiday season and honor it. Can’t live without white fudge Oreos? Put that on your “splurge” list. Not that into eggnog? Then don’t chug it just because it’s there.
4. PORTION CONTROL
Don’t deny yourself of things you love. Allow yourself to sample your favorite foods, but within reason. If Christmas Cookies or Gelt are your jam, go for it, but don’t go all out. If you know you lack control when it comes to particular items, don’t buy them in bulk. If you don’t have it in the cabinet, it’s pretty hard to overindulge in it. Buy one or two when you are out and be done with it.
5. SCHEDULE YOUR WORKOUTS IN ADVANCE
Put them on your crowded calendar and commit to them like you would a business meeting. Pay for them in advance as well. When we put money towards something, we are more likely to show up for it. A regular and fun workout routine will help mitigate some of those extra holiday cookies.
6. BE THE CHANGE
The holidays are full of potlucks at work and with family. This year, skip the hot cross buns and make something that will keep your actual buns looking good. Inspire everyone and make a creative crudité with a healthy veggie dip. Or try a raw, low-sugar, dessert.
7. CHOOSE HEALTHIER DRINKS
The drinks are usually where we all fall down. One leads to two, three, four, five…..And then comes the late night drunk pizza! Typical holiday cocktails are loaded with sugar. Choose drinks that aren’t full of sugary syrups or mixers. Try a vodka soda, tequila with soda and lime or some of our healthy holiday cocktails.
8. PLAN AHEAD
If you know you’re headed for a big night out, try to plan ahead and leave healthy leftovers in the fridge. If you’re pre-eating for your party, make enough to have leftovers and make that your go-to when you get home. Avoid the next-day-pizza-shame and make yourself a sautéed quinoa, veggies & egg stir-fry ahead of time. It’s pretty delish and has much-needed protein to recover from all the drinks.
9. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
You’re not going to burn calories efficiently if your body is too tired to do so. A good night’s sleep ensures your body has had time to reset. At night, our bodies shift into detoxification mode. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your levels of hormones called grehlin (it signals hunger) rise, while leptin, the hormone that signals satiety to your brain, decreases. These imbalances can trigger overeating and allow those pesky holiday pounds to creep onto your midsection. If you can, schedule one day a week where you don’t go out and head to bed early. Additionally, try and eat your meals three hours before bedtime to ensure you’ve properly digested and can shift into detox mode while you get your shuteye.
10. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM
Eating healthy and working out during the holidays is not always popular. It’s easier to hold your ground when you’re in good company. Ask your workout buddy, significant other, or co-worker to join you on your healthy holiday plan. Come January 1st when everyone is lamenting over their poor choices, you’ll be starting the year fit and fab.