We’re full swing into the holiday season and likely you’re surrounded by indulgent appetizers, festive cocktails and sweet treats — seemingly everywhere you turn. The abundance of family gatherings and holiday parties, coupled with the stress of the season makes it easy to derail all the hard work you’ve invested in staying healthy.
It can be hard to fight the culinary pleasures of the season, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to completely deprive yourself to stay on track in the weight department. Below are my top five personal food choices and tips that help me stay on course through the holiday season.
Moderation not deprivation
I have a motto when it comes to food that’s really quite simple: take a little of everything, and not too much of anything. If you let yourself have a taste of the delicious foods being served, you’ll satisfy your cravings without compromising your waist. My rule of thumb: be mindful of how many “bites” you take when building one sampler plate, then walk away.
Playing off my first tip, it’s important to watch how much you’re eating. It can be so easy to overeat when we’re grabbing passed hor d’ouveres and desserts and winding up headed to bed stuffed and waking up bloated. Avoid this discomfort by reaching primarily for fruit and vegetable-based appetizers and limit yourself to 2 to 3 pieces, if a full dinner is expected to follow.
Keep your routine
Even though your days are busier, it’s important to try and keep to your established sleep and fitness routines. Exercise helps to blow off some steam, manage stress and sleep better. Plus, if you keep exercising you may be more mindful (and feel a little less guilt) when reaching for that second sugar cookie. Shift your workouts to the morning if your nights are filled so it’s harder to skip it.
If you know you’re headed to a holiday party that evening, stack the rest of your day with clean eating. Eat sensibly by choose nutrient dense, plant-based proteins, vegetables, whole grains and quality fat such as from olive oil. Avoid eating “light” in regards to calories on these days, as you’ll end up heading to the party ravenous and over-compensate with far more calories than you would have eaten had you kept your body well-nourished throughout the day.
Don’t focus on the food
Remember that food and drink is only half of the party. Be mindful of the company you’re surrounded by and immerse yourself in conversation with others. When socializing you’ll be less tempted by the food and more focused on catching up with friends and loved ones. Make it even easier by putting distance between yourself and the food table.
Finally, remember that the holidays are a time to spend surrounded by good company — and food to match — and that while being mindful of what you’re eating is important, it shouldn’t be the focus of the season. On the occasion of overindulgence, remember that one or two parties are not going to derail your entire year worth of efforts. If you do happen to reach for one too many cocktails or appetizers, wake up the next day and jump right back into your normal routine. You’ll be back to yourself in no time.