So many of my clients fear their healthy eating is going to go right out the window during the holidays. Yes, it’s difficult to resist those sweet and savory treats when YOU are the host, and can often be harder when you’re away from home, traveling, or at a restaurant as you have less control over your options. You don’t want to appear fussy or rude and you don’t want to be the food police. I get it—you WANT to have some stuffing and/or pie AND/OR wine, right? I know I do! But for me, my health is something I’m incredibly grateful for and I choose to guard and respect it as much as possible, even during the holidays.
Here are some tips to help keep your holiday eating healthy:
- Eat Breakfast. Don’t “save up” calories for the party, the big day, or the big meal. Begin the day with balance: include protein, fruits and/or veggies and a bit of healthy fats like nuts and seeds. You’ll curb hunger and cravings and set the tone for the day. Lunch should be the same recipe: protein, veggies, and a bit of fat.
- Pack and Plan. When traveling, bring healthy items with you like apples, carrots, hummus, nuts, and even protein powders for smoothies. When you arrive at your destination, get to a grocery store to stock up for the rest of your stay. Being away from home is not an excuse to eat junk.
- Bring a Healthy Dish. Make a call to your host a day or two before the event and offer to bring a dish. If I am asked to bring dessert, I always arrive with a crudité and healthy dip as well as the decadent dessert. This way I know I will always have a healthy option to fill up on, even while I am TASTING all of the goodies. Most everyone is grateful for a few healthy bites, too.
- Move. Mingle, dance, get off the couch, and simply move around. Suggest games like charades or Pictionary for some non-food entertainment. After the party, challenge your mind so you’re not thinking about that leftover apple pie. Try crossword puzzles, Words with Friends, Candy Crush or a good book—anything to distract you from the kitchen.
- Exercise. Holidays are not an excuse to take a holiday from exercise. Run in the “turkey trot” race, get a game of touch football together, do some pushups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks in the a.m., or gather everyone up for a walk after dinner. If you’re traveling, don’t forget to pack your sneakers. No excuses!
- Get Back Fast. After the holiday meal, party, or weekend, stop the junk. Don’t let one meal turn into a month-long eating extravaganza. The goal of food is to make you feel good, not bad. If you indulge (or over-indulge), enjoy it without guilt. Just get back on track with healthy foods and exercise as soon as possible.
- Remember. Thanksgiving is for giving thanks. Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees after its desecration by the Syrians. Try and make food secondary. Enjoy everyone’s company, play with the kids, help wash the dishes, and remind your loved ones how much you appreciate them. You’ll feel great, have no food regrets, and won’t be starting yet another diet on January 1. Enjoy the holidays!