The holiday season is upon us with Thanksgiving quickly approaching. This time of year is all about good times and good food with friends and family. While the abundance of tasty foods can be overwhelming, it is totally possible to enjoy everything, while eating in a nutritious manner. Below I will detail some strategies to help you navigate staying fit through the holidays. No need to wait until New Years to make resolutions, get em’ started TODAY!
Many of the food items that fill our holiday tables are oh-so-tasty, but also oh-so-calorie dense. Meaning per amount of food eaten, they tend to contain higher calories than some other foods such as fruits and vegetables. These calories come mostly from added sugar and fat. I don’t say this to convince you to eliminate them, just to be aware of what they may contain. This brings us to our first tip:
Be Aware of Portion Sizes
It is possible to thoroughly enjoy everything being served at a holiday gathering without becoming overly stuffed. This is mainly done through portion control. If you want to get a taste of everything, take a small serving of each dish. This allows you to try everything without becoming gluttonous and full. Before loading up your plate, take heed to the next tip.
Load up on Veggies
When I say this I don’t mean the candied yams, i’m referring to veggies such as carrots, cauliflower and roasted brussel sprouts. When loading your plate focus on filling at least half of it with non-starchy vegetables. This will ensure you are filling up on the nutritious stuff before you indulge in the higher-calorie, tasty items.
Smaller Breakfast and Lunch
Being that most holiday meals are eaten around dinner time, they only comprise one meal for that day. You can offset the caloric intake of a big holiday dinner by eating a smaller, less caloric breakfast and lunch. I would recommend focusing on getting a good source of lean protein at breakfast and lunch (eggs, yogurt, tofu, fish, lean meat) paired with a source of complex carbohydrates (whole grain toast, oatmeal, brown rice) and minimal fat. Theoretically, this should allow you to consume more calories later in the day without a major gain in body fat.
Get in Some Exercise
This doesn’t mean that you have to hit the gym for an all out session but being active can provide a calorie burn and offset some of the calories you will consume later in the day. This could be something like a 30-minute walk or raking some leaves. Or for the more advanced athletes, getting in a gym session the day of a big holiday meal can also provide a great calorie offset. If your goal is gaining muscle, the big holiday meal could actually contribute to those muscle gains. Staying active around the holidays is especially important due to all the eating and drinking we tend to do at this time of year.
These are just a few of the tactics I implement with myself and my clients around the holiday season. You do not have to accept that you will gain weight over the holidays! Use these strategies to enjoy during the festivities and hold yourself accountable to your goals!
What strategies do you use to stay on track through the holiday season? Let me know in the comments below! Happy Holidays to everyone and until next time, BE ELITE!