By: Sue Pasqual
With the Holiday season in full swing, many people wonder if it’s at all possible to maintain or even lose weight during the holiday season. I try to always be the “glass-half-full” type of person who believes that anyone can succeed if they set their mind to it, but perseverance isn’t always all you need. Especially over the holidays, little preparation may be in order so I asked a few of our TLS® Weight Management Coaches for some top tips they give their clients for a healthy holiday! Here’s what they said:
TLS® Coach Ellen Levine
Call ahead of time, find out what is being served
to determine if it makes sense to eat there or eat before you go.
I think this healthy holiday tip is instrumental (and pretty easy with the help of Google) if you are going to a restaurant. If you are going to someone’s home, I recommend that you call and simply mention that you are on an eating program for your health and want to know if there is anything you can/should bring. I think stating that you’re doing this “for your health” gets better and more accurate answers than opening with “I’m on a diet”.
Bring something healthy and delicious to share.
Instead of asking the host “what should I bring?” you can simply state ‘I will be bringing [insert healthy dish]’. Not only does this healthy holiday tip help the host by letting them know what dish will already be provided, but now you know exactly one thing you can enjoy!
Don’t drink your calories, sugar, fat, and carbs!
Read: Avoid alcohol and fancy drinks.
Alcohol typically lowers inhibitions which can cause you to crave foods you otherwise would haven’t thought twice about and the empty calories from the drinks themselves are only setting you back further. Of course, if you are interested in an occasional alcoholic beverage to help foster a little holiday cheer then be sure to stay away from drinks that include ingredients like juice, syrups, creams, and sodas. Instead, opt for ones with soda water and fruit!
Use exercise to burn some extra calories, help avoid weight gain, and decrease stress.
In short…fit in your fitness. This healthy holoday tip is especially important over the holidays since you’re juggling so much additional stress and faced with more temptation than usual! It’s as simple as carving out 30 minutes on Christmas morning for an in-home workout, brisk walk, or even shoveling the driveway! You will feel so much better and more in control after a good ‘ole sweat fest.
Always focus on the celebration, not the food!
The holidays are about togetherness, love, and gratitude! Focus on what you can bring to the situation, not what you can take from it. Help out at the events as much as you can, be present, and connect with people you don’t see often or those you meet.
TLS® Coach Ellen said it perfectly! It isn’t about the pumpkin pie; It’s the love of those who made it for you.
TLS® Coach Jessica Michaud
Create a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off a few extra calories before you even begin to indulge in your favorite foods.
There seems to be a theme to this healthy holiday tip…fit in your fitness! Exercise really helps especially during the holiday craziness.
Eating a nutritious meal with protein and fiber before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices.
Just because your holiday lunch is jam-packed with delicious, unhealthy foods doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat your healthy breakfast! Fueling your body with a healthy breakfast not only keeps you full and fueled, but it also prevents you from overindulging on appetizers and starts your body + metabolism off in the right way!
Make your recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories. There’s a great blog post that covers a few baking swaps, but here are a few suggestions as well:
- Use fat-free and low salt chicken broth to baste the turkey, make gravy, + flavor other recipes.
- Use sugar substitutes in place of sugar
- Substitute fruit purees in place of oil for baked goods.
- Reduce oil and butter wherever you can.
- Try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.
Making healthier holiday food that has less fat and sugar seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? And these substitutes are actually great tasting!
Police Your Portions
Before you fill your plate, survey the buffet table and decide the best and most fulfilling way to fill your plate is, then select reasonable-sized portions of the foods you know you really want. Try to choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber to ensure you’re building a balanced plate that boosts satiety. White turkey meat, plain vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes, defatted gravy, and pumpkin pie tend are great choices because they tend to be lower in fat and calories.
Go Easy on Alcohol
You see this healthy holiday tip again here because – let’s face it – alcohol is social! It’s very common to enjoy some family cheer together, just don’t forget that alcohol’s empty calories add up quickly.
For this healthy holiday tip, I like to believe the holiday season is really just 2 days in my family: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Those are generally the only days I eat differently, and I won’t put on excess weight from just 2 days. Now, attending holiday parties 2-3 times per week? That might be what causes your weight gain.
The holiday season is a time for celebration and, with busy schedules and so many extra temptations, this may be the time to strive for weight maintenance instead of weight loss.
Focus on Family and Friends
The holidays are not just about the delicious bounty of food.; It’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends! Think of it as a work vacation. You just want to unwind and spend time with family and friends, but we don’t take a week off from work to jump overboard away from our healthy habits. The same goes for the holidays!
TLS® Coach Suzanne Patrick
If you don’t want to be rude by refusing foods OR are around tempting foods,
grab an appetizer size plate + plan to only fill it once!
This is the perfect way to control your intake and not upset your host! Most parties have something healthy (which you can totally be the one to bring) which is an easy way to fill up on foods that won’t set you back.
Did you eat too much? Feel bloated or gassy?
Hot lemon water can help settle an uneasy tummy.
Often times when we eat foods we don’t usually eat, our digestive tract gets affected (and not in a fun way). A great way to alleviate the negative side effects of indulgence is to sip on warm/hot water with the juice of ½ fresh lemon.
Fill up with satisfying and filling foods first.
Start with protein and veggies then carbs/starches.
Start with those veggies, and load up! Whether they’re appetizers or sides, filling up on quality carbs like vegetables helps you not overdo it on simple carbs and white flour foods when the main course comes around.
Cap the holiday or party with movement like a walk, the gym, or a fitness class.
BONUS – Working out with buddies is more enjoyable, motivating, and you can hold each other accountable.
Well, there you see it again, but this time it’s recommended to go with a friend! Plan the exercise meeting beforehand and be sure to tell your partner that you are happy that she/he will go with you to ensure you fit in your fitness! It’s hard to skip a workout when you’ve got a friend waiting on you.
Eat mindfully, savor the flavor, eat slowly, and socialize.
Do you realize how many people only chew 1-2 times before they swallow? Chewing your food allows your brain and belly to communicate better…meaning you will recognize when you are full before you hit the “oh no, I’ve overdone it” stage! By eating too fast, you set yourself up for bloating, discomfort, and you miss out on the socializing that’s happening around you.
Brush your teeth after a meal to freshen your palette and help reduce the desire to eat.
It’s true! Have you ever eaten something you enjoyed with a mouth full peppermint? Nope…me neither
TLS® Coach Dr. Nancy Miller-Ihli
Substitute almond flour/coconut oil for regular flour/fat for healthier cookies.
This not only helps reduce the amount of unhealthy fats + high-GI carbs, but they actually are delicious tasting! You won’t even know the difference.
For some holiday fun consider making a veggie gingerbread house.
I guess this is where we go against our parents advice and we play with our food! Being creative delivers your food item with love and a little laughter.
I guess it is ultimately true that we can all thrive instead of just surviving the holidays!
Utilizing some of these tips will help you along the way and ensure your end to
2018 is packed with love without packing on the pounds!