It's hard to believe, but Thanksgiving just came and went. 2019 is rapidly drawing to a close!
As we flip the calendar over to December, we officially begin the holiday season (though, if the TV commercials are to be believed, it really started in October). As you ramp up for the holidays, you'll probably have no shortage of opportunities to indulge in celebratory holiday food and drink.
Unfortunately, the temptation to overindulge this time of year is hard to ignore. Usually, this traps us in a vicious cycle of excessive eating and drinking, followed by feelings of guilt. Sometimes we'll even punish ourselves with hard workouts or new restrictions on what we're 'allowed' to have.
Such a behavior pattern isn't healthy for anyone and we should try to avoid it at costs. So today, we're going to discuss 4 Healthy Holiday Diet Tips. Implementing these strategies over the next month will allow you to enjoy the Holiday Food Fest, while keeping your waistline in check.
Before you even think about eliminating certain foods from your diet or altering what you eat in any way, try slowing down first.
When you slow down you digest food better. You also feel more satisfied because the brain has enough time to receive fullness cues from the stomach. When you add these two factors together, you'll find better results, both on the scale and with your waistline!
To accomplish this task, try to eliminate distractions during meals, like the TV or your cell phone. Prepare your meal, sit down at the table and relax. Slowly chew your food. Enjoy the meal. Have a conversation with your significant other. You'll often find that what's on the plate is plenty and you'll be less likely to go back for seconds.
Avoid rummaging through the Christmas cookie jar for a late night snack – eat your protein and veggies first!
Protein is the building block for muscle and essential for maintaining lean mass. It's also a slow-digesting macro nutrient, so it helps us to feel full for longer. Animal protein sources are going to have a complete amino acid profile. If you're a plant-based eater, you'll want to mix your plant sources (e.g. beans and rice) to ensure you're getting all the essential amino acids.
In terms of volume, ladies should aim for one palm-sized serving of protein with each meal. Guys, aim for two at every meal.
Veggies are packed with fiber, essential vitamins, nutrients and water. Veggies also have a low calorie to volume ratio, so eating a lot of them doesn't equate to eating a lot of calories. In a perfect world, at least half of your plate consists of your favorite veggies, raw or cooked.
By combining these two food types together at every meal, you'll feel more satiated before the dessert tray comes around. You also help to ensure that the calories you consume contain essential vitamins and nutrients.
Don't shoot the messenger!
It's important to stay hydrated. Doing so leads to improved water balance, diegestion and bodily functions. Additionally, drinking plenty of water also seems to help with feeling satisfied. In fact, researchers hypothesize that water consumption, combined with slow eating is a great 1-2 punch for satiety.
Whether it's from stress or an intense party schedule, alcohol consumption also tends to rise during the holidays. By consistently drinking water, you'll offset some of the negative effects that occur while consuming alcohol, like dehydration. As an added bonus, you may actually reduce your total alcohol consumption. Because alcohol suppresses fat oxidation, controlling intake is an important factor in maintaining or improving body composition.
People also tend to eat more when drinking alcohol. Doing so will have a deleterious effect on our waistlines, especially if we're choosing low quality, calorie dense foods late at night and in high quantities. To keep those junk food cravings at bay and reduce your total caloric intake this holiday season, drink more water and enjoy alcohol moderately.
Just because something is adorned with green, red and the word "holiday" doesn't mean we have to eat it to excess. And I say that having previously acknowledged my weakness for Holiday Mint M&M's!
Ultimately, we want to enjoy the special foods that come out for the holidays. Rather than avoid them at all costs or punish yourself for enjoying them, I'd encourage you to practice moderation. A little egg nog, not the whole bowl. A Christmas cookie or two, not a dozen. A glass of that vintage Pinot, not the bottle.
Enjoy it, savor it then save it as a treat for another time.
Also, keep in mind that if you closely follow tips 1 through 3, you'll find it's much easier to consistently execute tip 4.
You don't have to avoid the holiday food fest at all costs to stay fit and healthy. Instead, just follow the tips discussed today.
By slowing down, eating protein and veggies, drinking water and enjoying foods in moderation you'll come out ahead this holiday season. Perhaps most importantly, you'll avoid the guilt and frustration that goes with overindulging during the holidays.