Well, it's that time again and the holidays (read: holiDAYS not holiMONTHS) are upon us. Tis the season to feast, drink, be merry, and make mashed potato volcanos with molten gravy. It's also the time when even the best intentioned fitness-ers tend to struggle with staying on track with their goals. So rather than getting stressed out, I've put together a few sane and simple solutions for you to enjoy the holidays without creating unwanted diet stress. Check it:
1. Don't Diet or Restrict Yourself
Seriously. It may seem counterintuitive if you're trying to stay lean or lose weight but trust me here. The holidays are worst time to restrict yourself as it goes against our evolutionary social patterns to feast, drink and be merry. Nobody wants to be the pariah at the table nibbling on a celery stick while everyone else is destroying the pumpkin pie.
It is a much better approach to accept that you aren't going to eat perfectly during the holidays and just try to make better choices.
And if you must make bad choices, and I hope you will, read #2.
2. Make Better 'Bad' Choices a.k.a. Don't Eat Like an A-Hole
Too many people fall into the mental trap of, "If I'm going to eat junk, I might as well just eat whatever the 'ef I want and go into a diabetic carb coma until January."
That's just ludicrous.
No matter what you choose to stick down your pie hole, just realize it's not the end of the world (or your nutrition goals). It's okay to make bad choices, but just make better ones.
For instance, have a normal-person sized dessert. You know what I'm talking about and NO, you don't need 4 slices of each dessert on the table. If you MUST try each offering, it makes sense to just have a taste of each, not a full serving!
3. Crush Protein and Vegetables Prior to Dessert
If you KNOW it is going to be hard to resist all the sugary confections after dinner then it will be in your best interest to stuff your face NOW. Again, counterintuitive, but you can think of this one as pre-dessert damage control.
Protein is extremely satisfying and satiating (especially in the short-term) when compared to other macro-nutrients. If your fitness minded and training you should already know how important protein is to begin with!
Throw in some bulk veggies and roughage and it will be easier to pass on the hyper-palatable and high-calorie desserts later on.
And if dinner isn't being served at this particular party, chances are there will be platters set out with vegetables and dip as well as cold cuts. Attack the veggies and cold cuts with reckless abandon and you should be well nourished!
4. Hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE!
This goes hand-in-hand with #3 and is a good life-long rule as well. Stay hydrated!
Thirst can often times be perceived as hunger as they are very similar processes in the body. So if you're even mildly dehydrated you will feel hungry even if you've already gone back for 2nds and 3rds....twice.
It's easy to be dehydrated, especially if you're drinking alcohol and/or coffee. Again, it's okay to indulge but make sure to do it smart.
You should be drinking close to 4 liters (1 gallon) of water daily anyways so if you're not quite getting there, that is a good target. Start there.
5. Have a Protein Shake and Some Nuts on the Road
This is one that my wife and I find ourselves doing if we're headed out to a party that will only have junk food or out to a local watering hold in Boston.
Again, protein is extremely satiating and the combination of some healthy fats and protein will provide you with some extra energy to own the dance floor later in the evening.
It is always a better approach to focus on putting the 'good' stuff in your mouth rather than restricting the 'bad' stuff. It takes much less mental energy to have a quick snack than it is to avoid eating crap later.
Simple strategies, right? Think you can master the art of holiday eating? If you have any questions or other helpful tips, please share below in the comments section!