The holiday season is the best time of the year - getting to celebrate with family and friends and getting a much needed break from work. Unfortunately, the holidays can also become stressful with the last minute shopping, traveling, gifted baked desserts, and endless amounts of social gatherings that all center around food. It's not uncommon that people gain weight over the holidays, and that extra pound or two each year can really add up over a lifetime. Enjoying the holiday season does not have to mean gaining weight! These tips will help you avoid unwanted weight gain and stay healthy throughout the holiday season.
- Don’t skip meals
- Don't skip meals during the early part of Thanksgiving Day, with the idea that you're just "saving room" for all the food. If you're going to a Thanksgiving lunch, be sure you eat breakfast before. If you're going to a dinner, be sure you eat lunch or have a snack in the afternoon to decrease your chances of arriving too hungry and overeating.
- Limit high calorie beverages
- Soda, cocktail drinks, and eggnog are all very high in calories. Try drinking tea or water instead. If alcohol is a must, have a glass or two of red wine or vodka with club soda. Here are some additional tips on choosing the best drinks.
- Pace yourself
- Slow down and enjoy the food! This may be the one time all year you eat a lot of these dishes, so savor the flavor.
- Portion control
- Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, a quarter of it with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and a quarter of it with turkey or ham. Try to stick to one plate, and aim for having just one dessert. It’s fine to have dessert, just try to limit yourself to your favorite one rather than trying multiple. Moderation is key! Don’t restrict yourself from foods you love. Instead, have these foods and avoid wasting room on your plate with extra foods you know aren’t your favorites. If there are multiple dishes you're wanting to try, take them home for leftovers and spread it out throughout the week! You don't need to try all 10 side dishes in one day.
- There are many ways to reduce fat and calories in holiday recipes while still keeping tradition. Check out my chart for healthy recipe substitutions. Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or bringing a few dishes to share, make your recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories. Check out my recipe page to see healthy options for side dishes, including sweet potato casserole and parsley mashed potatoes. Try these pumpkin spice energy balls for a festive appetizer. When it comes to the turkey, choose white meat turkey over dark meat, and choose whole grain rolls over white. For dessert, try these pumpkin bread muffins or pumpkin pie bars.
- Allow yourself dessert!
- It's fine to have dessert, just try to limit yourself to your favorite one rather than trying multiple! This is where those substitutions mentioned above will also come in handy - you'll enjoy the same flavors of your favorite desserts but with less total sugar, fat, & calories. You could also split dessert with a family member to save on total calories.
- Plan time for exercise
- Research shows the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving day! Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevents unwanted weight gain. Participate in a local “Turkey Trot” walk/run before the big meal, or go on a walk with family afterwards. Call a friend and schedule a time for the day after to meet and exercise together, that way you have someone to hold you accountable! Don't have time to make it to the gym? Try these no equipment needed at-home workouts that can be done in 30 minutes or less!
- Take time to recover
- It is very common that endurance athletes (and busy working adults!) do not get enough sleep during the year. Resting and getting proper amounts of sleep is a critical part of training and recovery. The holidays offer a great chance to utilize your extra days off to catch up on some well-deserved rest. Averaging 7-8 hours a night is a good goal to accomplish.
Thanksgiving image via fitday.com