Categories Advice, Exercise, Food, Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss

Healthy Eating for the Holidays (Part 2) 7 Strategies to Help You Stay On Track

How is it December already? It seems like just yesterday I was enjoying my summer vacation! In any case, it’s here. Are you ready? Do you have a plan? If you’re like most people, you’re feeling overwhelmed.

While this is a joyous time of year, it can also be really stressful. You’re not alone if you find that you’re putting self-prioritization on the back burner and falling off track with healthy eating and exercise.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. A while back I wrote a blog post about how to avoid extra weight gain during the holiday season. In today’s blog, I offer some additional strategies to maintain your health goals and still enjoy a festive holiday season.

Here are 7 additional strategies that I recommend:

  1. Use a food tracker for accountability. This can be really helpful throughout the month as you attend holiday parties that are bound to include those tempting high calorie and high carb apps, desserts, and beverages. I recommend that you track your intake during the days leading up to a party or event, and definitely track the day after. On the day of the party, relax and enjoy. But be sure to get back on track the next day with plenty of lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, complex carbs and healthy fats. Your food tracker will hold you accountable and ensure you’re meeting your needs. I love the app Nutritionix Track and my clients do too.
  2. Set an exercise goal and stick to it. Decide how many times you will exercise or work out in December. Have a friend, personal trainer, or fellow gym goer hold you accountable. Reward yourself with something small when you meet your goal (just don’t reward yourself with food or alcohol). I’m not saying you can exercise your way out of poor eating habits, but it will help you to burn some extra calories, lower stress, and feel great about yourself. Who wouldn’t want that?
  3. Hosting a party or event? Give your favorite recipes a makeover. Replace inflammatory vegetable oils with olive oil or avocado oil. Swap heavy carb and fat based casseroles with simpler options. For example, replace a green bean casserole with green beans sautéed in olive oil and topped with almond slivers; swap mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower or glazed sweet potatoes with a plain sweet potato topped with cinnamon. Check out my Pinterest page for more ideas.
  4. Adopt a “Maintain Don’t Gain” philosophy. Instead of focusing on losing weight during December, set a goal to maintain your weight. It will lower your stress level and allow you to indulge in moderation.
  5. Ditch the sugary high calorie alcoholic beverages. Many are laden with syrup based mixers that will spike your blood sugar and cause you to crave more sweets. Opt for choices that include sparkling seltzer. It will significantly decrease calories and additives, and it will help to keep you hydrated.
  6. Limit the leftovers, especially desserts. If you are offered leftovers, opt for protein and vegetables. Leave the desserts behind. There will be plenty of those at the party next weekend.
  7. Hitting the buffet? Before getting in line, scope out your options. Seek out the fruit, vegetables, and lean proteins and be sure to fill your plate with those first. Decide which carbs you will enjoy (starchy vegetables are best) and which ones you will forgo. Avoid heavy sauces and fried foods.

Let’s face it, even with the best of intentions life gets in the way. The holidays are no exception. Having a clear-cut plan as you approach this month of celebrations will help you stay on track. Remember that this time of year is about spending time with those you love, and reflection. Stay focused on what really matters, remain positive, and remind yourself that you CAN do this.

 

Interested in learning more about my nutrition counseling services? Contact me here.

Categories Food, How To, Nutrition, Weight Loss

Healthy Eating For the Holidays: 8 Tips on How To Avoid Those Extra Pounds

It’s that time of year again… the holidays!

This is by far one of the most challenging periods for many people in terms of staying on track with their nutrition and exercise goals.

While the coming weeks are meant for celebration and spending time with family and friends, the holidays tend to bring with them unwanted weight gain. Most often this is a result of parties and events that include an abundance of high calorie appetizers, dense meals, sugary baked goods, and extra alcohol.

If that’s not hard enough, studies show that individuals tend to be more stressed and/or depressed during this time of year, which can lead to binge eating, less motivation to exercise, and poor sleep – all of which can lead to extra pounds.

So how can you stay on track with your goals yet still take part in the festivities?

Here are 8 tips that I recommend:


1. Don’t skip meals – If you have a party or event to attend, I always recommend sticking to a regular eating schedule versus “saving” all of your calories for that one big meal. Chances are, you’ll arrive at the party starving and you’ll eat way more then you intended. Skipping meals leads to an uneven distribution of calories and macronutrients, blood sugar imbalance, and cravings. Instead, have balanced meals and snacks throughout the day that include protein, healthy fats, complex carbs, and fiber. You’ll arrive steady and clear focused, with the ability to stick to proper portion sizes.

2. Bring a “safe” dish – Think of this as an insurance policy that at there will be at least one healthy dish available, and that is because you will be the one bringing it. Offer to bring a green salad, a veggie tray, or maybe a low carb appetizer like deviled eggs with avocado. Whatever it is that you bring, fill up on it if there are no other healthy choices available.

3. Step away from the table – A common mistake that we are all guilty of is standing next to or near the buffet table as we talk and socialize. This can lead to mindless eating as we continue to reach down and load our plate over and over and over. Instead, fill your plate and walk to another area of the room to socialize. That way, if you want to go back for seconds you will have to excuse yourself from the conversation and consciously walk back to the table for more. This will make you much more aware of your overall intake. 

4. Exercise before you go – Getting some physical activity prior to a big meal can be a great way to stay motivated and acquire some discretionary calories. Hit the gym, go for a run, take a brisk walk, whatever you can do to get a workout in. You’ll feel so much better that you did.

5. Portion your indulgences – Allow yourself to indulge in moderation, but don’t lose site of portions. Being mindful of portion sizes can go a long way in terms of keeping off those unwanted pounds. At main meals, balance your plate with two servings of vegetables, 4-5 oz of lean protein, about ½ cup of complex carbs, plus 1-2 servings of healthy fats for an optimal combination. For simple carbs like bread, alcohol or dessert, decide which ones you will include versus which ones you will forgo, and portion them appropriately. For example, 1 serving of wine is only 5oz.

6. Be mindful when you eat – This means slowing down, avoiding distractions, limiting stressful circumstances, sitting at the table, chewing thoroughly, and savoring your food using all of your senses. You will get the most out of your meals, and will likely feel more satiated causing you to eat less. 

7. Breathe – When stress gets the best of you, don’t forget to stop and breathe. Deep belly breathing can be a great way to reduce oxidative stress, calm anxiety, and help you focus. The best thing of all is that this can be done anywhere. Allow yourself at least 5 minutes each day to breathe deeply. This can be especially helpful if you find that stress is dictating your food choices.

8. Don’t skimp on sleep – Studies show that individuals who get less then 7 hours of sleep tend to have a harder time losing weight and are at a higher risk of insulin resistance. Prioritize your sleep by setting a bedtime each night and sticking to it. Proper sleep will help to ward off cravings, and will provide you with the energy needed to stick to your workouts.

Try these tips to help you successfully navigate through the holiday season and stay in balance.

For more information on nutrition counseling services, contact me here.