The holidays can be one of the most stressful times if you are concerned about sticking to your diet or your usual healthy eating habits. Temptations are everywhere, and it can even seem rude in some situations if you refuse the food offered to you!
However, it is possible to better manage your eating habits during this time of year, and here are some strategies you can implement to help you eat during the holiday season.
Have fun and relax!
It must be said that the holidays should be a joyful occasion to relax and spend time with loved ones. During this time, you can break out of your rigid nutritional plan and you will be fine!
Unless you are involved in a highly competitive weight management sport like wrestling, you need to take a deep breath and understand that the occasional dessert or straying from perfection will not affect your long term goals. You didn’t develop these healthy habits in one sitting, and they won’t go away all at once either.
Depending on the sport you play or where you are in season, this time of year can be seen as a great opportunity. Athletes looking to add muscle mass to their bodies during the offseason should take advantage of this calorie surplus, and athletes in seasons such as basketball and travel leagues can let their minds unwind and enjoy some things that are important to them. ‘maybe they were limiting before.
Casual is the keyword. Avoid overdoing it on a daily basis as these habits slowly turn into bigger problems, but don’t stress the occasional indulgence when it does.
Accept when things go badly
Don’t be too hard on yourself when you eat poorly and slip briefly. It is quite normal and healthy to some extent. Although when this does happen, don’t think of it as a free pass to go crazy and eat poorly for the rest of the day, either. Eating a cookie or two doesn’t mean your healthy nutritional plan is ruined for that day, and you have a free pass to eat whatever you want.
This state of mind usually creates a negative cycle in which you feel worse after the day is over. Consider this if you’ve been driving on the road and have a flat tire. You would be upset at first and think this day is horrible and potentially even ruined because of the setback. You wouldn’t immediately have slashed the remaining three perfectly inflated tires, would you? No, you would accept the circumstances you find yourself in and replace the flat tire with a spare to move forward. Eating is no different.
Maintain similar nutritional habits
A simple strategy to help you stay on the path to healthy vacationing habits is to maintain the nutritional and eating habits you already had before.
A major factor contributing to poor eating habits during the holidays is the change in schedule. During the holidays, your routine is disrupted, forcing you to deviate from the previous plan. Things like staying up later, eating at home instead of school, and larger scale family dinners all lead to this disruption.
Work on maintaining many of the same eating habits such as what time of day you eat, the number of meals, similar types of food, and a similar amount, of course. Keeping track of this can help maintain a healthy diet and state of mind.
Choose the healthiest options
This strategy, I understand, is easier said than done, but there are often healthier options when you consider your food choices. Examples such as;
- Drink water instead of soda
- Eat plain sweet potatoes instead of the marshmallow loaded option
- Load up on veg first, so you’re not so hungry when dessert arrives
- Take the sauce aside so as not to drown your food in the sauce
- While these alternatives are small and simple strategies, they pay off in the larger health system. The little things add up when they’re done consistently.
Before I get into this next strategy, I’ll always recommend real whole foods before supplementation. It’s in the word supplementation itself and is meant to “supplement” your diet with natural, whole foods.
Yet if you are reading this and know that you are untrustworthy. If you’re going to overdo it at every opportunity and eat until you drop, this next strategy is for you.
Drinking a protein shake (1-2 scoops) 30 minutes before a meal can have a drastic effect on your appetite. Not only will the protein supplement help better manage your unruly appetite, it will also help meet certain macro and micronutrient demands as well as a pre-meal dessert-like taste.
The holidays should be a time of joy, gratitude and relaxation. Don’t let the stress of keeping the perfect nutritional plan or food temptations keep you from enjoying this time with your loved ones.
Follow the strategies listed to give yourself an increased edge in maintaining healthy eating habits and enjoying the festivities.