The holidays are upon us, and for many people that is that opening of “national eating season.”
During this time of year (Thanksgiving through New Year’s) the calendar is chock-full of parties, family get-togethers, and happy hours during which you’ll be confronted (“tempted”) with all manner of sweet and savory treats as well as some rather indulgent “adult” beverages -- all of which pack a considerable amount of calories.
While this time of year brings more relaxation, rest, and fellowship, it also presents a challenge for many of those looking to maintain their weight loss results they’ve achieved during the previous 11 months of the year as well as those who are still in the midst of a transformation challenge.
No matter if you’re focused on building muscle, maintaining your results, or losing weight this holiday season, here are five ways to stay on track while eating around the holidays.
#1 Stay Active
Ok, this technically isn’t a tip for “eating” around the holidays, per se, but it most certainly can help you stay on track with your goals.
Staying as active as you can will go a long way to helping you attenuate any potential fat gain from the extra indulgences of the holidays.
Now, it’s important to realize that this doesn’t mean you have to live in the gym or on the cardio machine every waking minute that you’re not at a family gathering or social event (though structured exercise certainly does help burn calories, build muscle, and fight fat). Being active simply means moving more throughout the day (or at least as much as you do when it’s not the holiday season).
You see, structured exercise (e.g. cardio, HIIT, weight lifting, resistance training, crossfit, etc.) is just one component of your daily energy expenditure. A far larger component is the energy you burn during non-structured physical activity...otherwise known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).
Keeping active (such as going on a short 10-minute walk or parking at the back of the parking lot) can go a long way to helping increase your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which can help you successfully navigate the dietary pitfalls of the holiday season without ruining all of the hard work you’ve done all year.
#2 Have a Snack Before Heading Out
A lot of the “how to eat healthy during the holiday” articles are coming out right now, and many of them have some rather “unique” (we’re being polite) suggestions of how to eat, such as “bring a meal with you” or “don’t eat.” And, sure, these tips can work, but let’s be honest if you show up to Thanksgiving dinner with a tupperware container of grilled chicken, broccoli and rice or don’t eat anything at all, you’re not only going to get some strange looks, but you’ll also probably come off as incredibly rude.
The truth is that you can enjoy the holidays with your family, friends, and loved ones without having to bring your meal or avoid eating entirely. You just have to know how to enjoy the holidays responsibly.
One way to do that is to have a small snack (preferably one rich in protein) before going to the engagement.
Having a protein pre-load (such as a whey protein shake, a couple hard boiled eggs, or some slices of turkey or ham) can help reduce feelings of hunger (which will help you eat less total calories).
By having a snack beforehand, you still get to socialize, eat, and enjoy yourself at holiday get-togethers all the while staying on track with your goals!
#3 Offer to Help with the Meal
Social gatherings require a fair amount of planning and preparation, not the least of which is the preparation of the food and drink that will be consumed.
If you’re savvy in the kitchen and want to ensure there’s something healthy for everyone to enjoy at the gathering, offer your culinary services up to the host.
Even if you’re not the best cook, you can still help ensure the feast has at least one healthy option by picking up something like a fruit & veggie platter from the grocery store. Most food stores offer a variety of trays (especially during the holidays) including all sorts of healthy options.
If you’re self-conscious about bringing a dish or food tray to a pot-luck, don’t be. No one needs to know it’s your food. This way, you can enjoy the occasion guilt-free.
#4 Get Support
Trying to eat healthy and stay on track with your goals can be quite a challenge at times. And, even if your immediate family and friends aren’t living the healthy and fit lifestyle, remember that you are NOT alone.
There are multiple outlets where you can find and interact with friends for support, encouragement and motivation, including neighborhood meet-ups as well as online communities like our private facebook group.
Additional ways to find support during the holidays are to reach out to your coach/trainer when you’re struggling and have them remind you to go to the gym. You can also hire a dietitian to help you with your diet.
Regardless of where your support is, make sure to use them this holiday season, and, chances are, that they will probably ask you for help and encouragement too!
Just don’t be hesitant to reach out and ask.
#5 Remember the Basics
If all else fails, remember the basics.
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
- Have a portion of protein with every meal and snack.
- Stay hydrated.
- Move a little every day.
The simpler you can make your fitness and nutrition plan, the better (especially during the holiday season).
Health & fitness doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be complicated.
You don’t need to count every step you take every day of the holiday season, nor do you need to track every last macro to the milligram.
The holidays are meant to be a time for reflection, celebration, and thanksgiving. As such, enjoy yourself this holiday season (responsibly) and spread some holiday cheer!
And, remember, 1UP Nutrition is always here to help support you wherever and whenever you need it, including the holidays, with our comprehensive line of dietary supplements, FREE fitness and nutrition advice, and support and motivation on our private facebook group.