During the holiday season, it’s harder than ever to keep your diet on track. There are delicious foods on every table, treats around every corner, and plenty of reasons to cheat “just once.” It’s little wonder that most people feel that they put on extra weight over the holidays! When you’ve spent all year struggling to maintain a healthy diet, however, feeling as though you’ve failed your best efforts by the time the holidays are over can be seriously discouraging. If you’re hoping to avoid the heaping helping of post-holiday guilt, there are several strategies you can use to keep your diet on track.
Consider these five holiday diet tips:
1. Be Intentional
If you, like many women, have a sweet tooth that you’re sure can’t be denied, then don’t try! The harder you try to avoid every dessert table and skip every treat, the more frustrated you’re going to feel. For many women, that feeling of frustration ends in a holiday binge when they polish off an entire package of candy or demolish a plate full of cookies.
Instead of avoiding the treats, try being intentional about them. Don’t eat mindlessly, especially when you’re at a party or other social gathering. Instead, practice mindful eating. If you’re going to have that cookie, then enjoy every bite of it. Dipping into the holiday fudge? Savor the texture as it goes down. If you’re going to have those high-calorie, sugar-filled treats, enjoy every bite of them.
You’ll find that eating mindfully will help you feel satisfied with smaller portions. Not only that, paying attention to what you’re eating will help you choose the treats you really enjoy. Take a bite of something that doesn’t taste as good as you’d hoped? Don’t feel guilty about leaving it on your plate and not taking another bite.
2. Fill Your Plate Properly
At many holiday parties, you’ll find yourself walking down a buffet line or enjoying a huge array of dishes. You want to try at least a bite or two of everything–and there’s nothing wrong with checking out the dishes all of your friends have prepared! Make sure, however, that you’re filling your plate with the right dishes. Have larger portions of vegetables and lean protein than you do of breads or sugar-filled vegetable dishes. You can have a taste or two of sweet potato casserole, but don’t count on it to provide your vegetables for the evening.
Be aware of the calorie count of your favorite dishes before you head in for the meal. Enjoy high-calorie dishes in moderation and fill the greatest percentage of your plate with healthier foods. It can be helpful to know how your family prepares a specific dish: for example, a deep-fried turkey is likely to be higher in calories than one that has been roasted in the oven.
3. Cook for Yourself
At many holiday parties, you’ll be asked to bring a specific dish. Whether you’ve been directed to supply a favorite dessert or you’ve had a side dish requested, look for some great healthy recipes to help fill out the table. In many cases, you may find that no one notices the difference between a healthy dish and the full-calorie version. In other cases, party-goers may prefer the healthier choice, especially if they, too, are struggling to maintain their diets throughout the holidays.
You can look for substitute options for your favorite holiday recipes or choose unique healthy options that everyone will enjoy. Try to do some recipe browsing before the holiday occurs. When you already have your recipe picked out, you’ll be able to offer your host an idea of what you’ll be bringing.
4. Look for Non-Food Ways to Celebrate
Many holiday celebrations revolve around food. Check out Pinterest and other popular sites, and you’ll quickly discover that many of the holiday articles have to do with food. While everyone has to eat, there are plenty of great ways to celebrate the holiday with friends and family without breaking all of your diet resolutions. For example:
- Try suggesting an ornament-making party for the kids instead of cookie decorating.
- Have a small gift or ornament exchange instead of a cookie exchange.
- Enjoy a light ride or walk with your family or a group of friends.
- Donate time to a homeless shelter, food kitchen, or other volunteer organization during the holiday season.
- Go window shopping and enjoy all of the creative holiday displays.
- Go to a local festival or holiday event as a family.
5. Cut the Portions
Many recipes are designed to feed a crowd. When you’re eating alone or you have a small family, you might find yourself overeating so that you don’t waste the food you’ve made. Don’t feel as though you have to finish the entire portion just because there’s no one else in the house! Instead, try:
- Sharing a batch of cookies with your neighbors.
- Delivering baked goods to a local nursing home.
- Going in together with a friend or family member on a box of candy.
- Inviting a friend over to share a holiday meal.
- Splitting your favorite restaurant meal with a friend or family member.
Traditionally, the holidays are a time of indulgence. You can certainly enjoy yourself this holiday season, including all of the treats you love most, without feeling as though you’ve completely broken your diet. If you’re looking for more tips on living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy diet during the holidays and all year long, contact us today to learn more.