The holidays can be one of the most stressful times if you are concerned about sticking with your diet or usual healthy eating habits. Temptations are everywhere, and it can even come off as rude in certain situations if you deny the food being offered!
It is possible, though to better manage your nutritional habits during this time of year, and here are a few strategies that you can implement to help aid you during the holiday season eating.
Enjoy yourself and Relax!
It needs to be said that the holidays should be a joyous occasion that you get to relax and spend around your loved ones. During this time you may come off of your rigid nutritional plan and it will be okay!
Unless you’re involved in a highly competitive weight management sport such as wrestling, you should take a deep breath and understand that the occasional dessert or stray away from perfection isn’t going to affect your long-term goals. You didn’t develop those healthy habits in one sitting, and they’re not going to go away in one either.
Depending on what sport you play or where you are in season this time of the year can be seen as a great opportunity. Athletes looking to add some muscle mass to their frame during the offseason should embrace this caloric surplus and athletes in seasons such as basketball and travel leagues can let their minds decompress and enjoy some things that they may have been limiting previously.
Occasional is the keyword. Avoid overdoing it on a consistent daily basis as those habits develop slowly into larger problems, but do not stress the occasional indulgence when it occurs.
Accepting When It Does Go Bad
Don’t be too hard on yourself when you eat poorly and slip briefly. This is completely normal and healthy to an extent. Although when this occurs do not view it as a free pass to go crazy and eat poorly the rest of the day either. Eating one or two cookies doesn’t mean your healthy nutritional plan is ruined for that day, and you have a free pass to eat whatever you like.
That mindset usually creates a negative cycle where you feel worse after the day is over. Consider this, if you were driving down the road and blew one of your tires out. You would be initially upset and think that this day is horrible and potentially even ruined due to the setback. You wouldn’t then immediately slash the remaining three perfectly inflated tires, would you? Not, you would accept the circumstances you’re in and change the flat tire for a spare to move forward. Eating is no different.
Maintaining Similar Nutritional Habits
An easy strategy to help you stay on the path of healthy habits during the holidays is to maintain the nutritional and eating habits you were already previously doing.
A major contributing factor to poor nutritional habits during the holidays is the schedule change. During the holiday break, your routine is disturbed, causing you to justify straying off the previous plan. Things such as staying up later, eating at home instead of school, and the larger-scale family dinners lead to this disturbance.
Work to maintain many of the same eating habits such as the time of the day you eat, number of meals, similar types of foods, and a similar quantity, of course. Following this can help maintain a healthy diet and mindset.
Choose the Healthier Options
This strategy, I understand, is easier said than done, but many times there are healthier options when considering your food selections. Examples such as;
- Drinking water instead of soda
- Eating plain sweet potatoes instead of the marshmallow loaded option
- Loading up on vegetables first, so you’re not as hungry when dessert comes around
- Taking the sauce on the side so you don’t drown your food in gravy
- While these alternatives are small and simple strategies, they pay off in the larger health system. The little things do add up when performed consistently.
Before going into this next strategy, I will always recommend real, whole foods before supplementation. It’s in the word supplementation itself and is meant to “supplement” your diet of natural, whole foods.
Yet if you’re reading through this and know that you’re not to be trusted. If you are going to overindulge at every opportunity and eat till you drop, this next strategy is for you.
Drinking a protein shake (1-2 scoops) 30 minutes before a meal can lead to a drastic effect on your appetite. Not only is the protein supplement going to help better manage your unruly appetite, but it will also help achieve some macro and micronutrient demands as well as a taste similar to a pre-meal dessert.
The holidays should be a time of joy, gratitude, and relaxation. Do not allow the stress of maintaining the perfect nutritional plan or food temptations to prevent you from enjoying this time with your loved ones.
Follow the strategies listed to give yourself an increased advantage to maintain some healthy nutritional habits and enjoy the festivities.