The holidays are a time of joy. They’re full of family, friends, and food, lots and lots of food. As a result, they can often be a time of anxiety. Family gatherings, festive parties, and unexpected treats are all an inevitable part of the holiday season, and so are their accompanying abundance of carbs and fats which definitely won’t fit your macros or diet plan, right? Fitness can often seem like an all-or-nothing lifestyle, but you don’t have to turn down every fun event that comes your way just to run home to your pre-measured, pre-cooked, boring chicken and broccoli. Instead, use these tips to incorporate the holidays into your lifestyle without derailing your goals. I promise it can be done!
1. Plan Ahead
If you’re invited to a get-together in advance, take advantage of the time frame, and look up the menu of the chosen restaurant before you go out. Most menus have their nutritional information available online, and restaurants are willing to accommodate your dietary needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! They’re there to serve you, after all. Figure out what you’re going to order ahead of time and plan the rest of the day’s meals to fit your needs. Then, enjoy a great time out without stressing about your calories!
2. Stick to diet-friendly options
Be mindful of your choices when at a pitch-in, potluck, or buffet. Instead of loading your plate with deep-fried appetizers, calorie-dense sauces, and rich, fattening desserts opt for items like fruits, raw or steamed vegetables, and grilled meats.
3. Budget your calories or macros (if you count)
If you know you will be around not-so-diet-friendly foods, you don’t have to deprive yourself. Instead, opt for lighter meals throughout the day focusing on healthy, nutrient-dense, high fiber options. This will save tons of calories throughout your day, leaving you plenty of room to treat yourself.
4. Bring Healthy Dishes to Pitch-Ins
Chances are you’ll be expected to bring a dish to something throughout the holiday season. This is the perfect opportunity for you to showcase your culinary skills and prove that eating healthy doesn’t have to be bland or boring. Wow your friends, family, or co-workers with a delicious dish that you know will fit your dietary needs.
5. Don’t be afraid to say no
Food will be pushed towards you, but you don’t have to eat it. This is a hard lesson to learn as holiday food is just SO good. However, moderation is key in any diet. You don’t have to taste every cookie and casserole that comes your way. Instead, gently explain to those offering why you’re declining. They may be confused or hurt at first, but if they care about you, they’ll also care about your goals and will understand your refusal.
6. Eat mindfully
If you really, truly want that piece of pie go for it, but don’t binge on it. Eat what you want, when you want, and stop when you’re full. Just as you don’t have to eat everything that comes your way, you also don’t have to finish it. Treats every once in a while won’t derail your progress, but full on binges will. Remember to eat slowly, savor the taste, and when you’ve had enough, simply put the food away.
7. Stay hydrated
Your brain often confuses hunger with thirst so make sure to sip on plenty of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated will also help reduce hunger and cravings, making it easier to limit your portions and stop when you’ve had enough.
8. Acknowledge Mistakes
You’re human, and you’re not perfect. You might mess up this holiday season, eat too much, or have a few too many drinks. This is OKAY. I promise. One (or a few) mistakes every once in a while won’t keep you from achieving your goals. Just get right back on track the next day, and you’ll reach your goals in no time.
There’s a time and place for being rigorous and strict, and there’s a time to enjoy yourself. You can try to track every calorie of a meal or every gram on your plate, but at the end of the day, is it worth it? Do you really want to look back on the holiday season to realize you missed out on great times with friends and family, because you were so worried about yourself? Instead of focusing on the foods available, focus on your loved ones and the joy they bring. Practice moderation, be mindful, and enjoy yourself.
10. Get back on track
The holidays won’t last forever. When they’re over, get right back to your normal routine. Prep your food, be diligent in the gym, and kill your goals knowing that you did your best during the holidays and enjoyed yourself. If you follow the tips above, you’ll most likely find that your progress wasn’t hindered at all. In fact, you might’ve even advanced towards your goals.
Whatever happens, enjoy the ride. After all, fitness is a lifestyle and a journey, not a destination. Life happens, and your diet shouldn’t negatively impact your relationships. Trust yourself, eat healthy foods, stay hydrated, work hard, and don’t forget to treat yourself. You deserve it. Happy holidays and happy eating.
Now, let’s reach our goals in the New Year.