Food is an interesting entity.
At its core, it serves as an essential source of fuel for our body and should be the foundation for our intake of required essential amino acids, healthy fats, good carbs, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
But, food isn’t just fuel (despite what many internet “gurus” will try to convince you of).
Food is also something communal. It’s meant to be savored, shared, and enjoyed.
This can put individuals who are dieting at a crossroads, especially during the holiday time -- when both food and drink are abundantly available (and let’s be honest, typical holiday fare isn’t the most calorie friendly).
However, during the holidays (or any other time really), it is still possible to enjoy food and lose weight.
Here are 6 ways to lose weight and enjoy the holidays!
#1 Re-Work Holiday Sweets
There’s no getting around it -- sweets, cookies, cakes, and candy will flow like Niagara Falls during the entire holiday season. This means lots of delicious treats, and at the same time, the consumption of lots of refined sugar and fats.
There are those out there who would tell you to avoid sweets entirely during the holiday season, and while that approach may work for some individuals, it may not be practical for everyone. As the saying goes, everything in moderation.
Truth be told, you don’t need to give up sweets entirely during the holidays (or any other time of year). You can still enjoy them (in moderation), and you can even improve the macronutrient profile of your holiday treats (i.e. less carbs, calories, and fats) with a few smart substitutions, such as swapping a portion of the sugar in a recipe for applesauce and/or sugar substitute like erythritol. Another thing you can do is to use a mix of white whole wheat flour and plain flour instead of 100% white flour in your holiday baking recipes.
#2 Shake Up Your Serving Style
Traditionally, holidays meals involve big plates, big chafing dishes, and big serving spoons. All of this can add up to bigger-than-normal portions and result in consuming WAY more calories than you need. Over the course of the holiday season, the leads to unwanted weight (fat) gain, which means you’ll have to work that much harder when New Year’s comes around.
Instead of doing the same-old, same-old this year, why not try shaking up how the holiday feast is served?
Use individual ramekins for mom’s famous breakfast casserole or grandma’s bread pudding. Bake mini pumpkin pies or cheesecakes. Put smaller serving spoons and dining plates on the buffet table.
All of these small changes will add up to big calorie savings this holiday season, which ultimately helps you combat the yearly holiday season weight gain and maintain your progress during your transformation challenge.
#3 Forget Feeling Guilty
There’s an inherent feeling in all of us that just because some family or friend made a dish we “have” to eat it, otherwise you should feel guilty and ashamed.
We’re here to say that feeling shouldn't be the case.
Just because some dish was made doesn’t mean you “have” to eat it, nor do you have to feel guilty because you didn’t stuff yourself beyond belief with it.
Simply put, if you don’t like a certain dish (or know it could be a “trigger food” for you that causes you to blow your diet), then don’t eat it. Furthermore, DON’T feel bad, ashamed or guilty for not eating it. You don’t have to explain your reasons for not eating a certain food to anyone, but if you do, feel free to. If some member of your family or friend tries to question your reasons or pressures you to eat a particular food after you kindly explain your reasoning, ask them why they feel so compelled to force something on you.
#4 Remember the Bigger Picture
The holiday season comes around once a year. For many of us, it’s a time to come together and see those whom we haven’t seen in quite some time.
Remember that one meal, one drink, one holiday or even a week of easing the brakes on your super-strict nutrition plan won’t derail a year’s worth of workouts and dieting.
Give yourself grace, be kind to yourself, and realize that everything will be OK.
And, if you’re really feeling stressed about overdoing it during the holidays, you can always resolve yourself to do better, get serious about your health & fitness, and join a transformation challenge for added motivation and encouragement.
#5 Introduce New Holiday Traditions
So much of the holidays is focused around eating and drinking, and, while that is certainly a part of the holiday season, it doesn’t have to be the entiretyof your holiday celebrations.
Feel free to mix things up this year (and every year). Get up from the table and/or barstool and walk around the neighborhood to see the lights, set up a family hike, or play a game of pick-up football.
Yet another way to enjoy the holidays (and give back to your community at the same time) is to organize a family clean out and donation drive to help those most in need.
#6 Share Your Goals
One final point to keep in mind is that you are never alone during your weight loss journey of transformation challenge, no matter whether your immediate family and friends support you or not.
The advent of the internet has allowed individuals to connect from across the globe. What this means is that even if you can’t connect with those in close proximity to you, there is a whole world (literally) of like-minded individuals who share your admirations, goals, and struggles.
When you enter the 1UP Nutrition Transformation Challenge, you can download our fitness app and get access to our exclusive Facebook support group where you can not only get motivation and encouragement but also advice about nutrition, training, supplements to help you maintain or optimize your results this holiday season.