It is difficult to do a complete diet makeover or maintain a perfect diet over the holidays, but that is no reason to completely neglect your health. Consuming an extra 500 calories a day, roughly the equivalent of 4 holiday cookies, several days a week can lead to a 5 pound weight gain in just 5 weeks. Luckily there are several things you can do to minimize the negative impact the holidays have on your diet. These small changes are easy to integrate into even the busiest schedule, and most importantly, you won’t feel like you are missing out on the holiday fun.
The following 5 tips are simple and easy to work into your daily routine. They are designed to help eliminate at least 100 calories a day from your diet and improve your overall health.
Before you head out to any holiday gathering, eat a healthy meal or snack. This prevents you from overeating out of starvation. Plan ahead and carry extra snacks such as almonds, trail mix, and apples with you at all times so you never arrive at party hungry.
Drink water. This time of year it is easy to forget to drink water when it is so cold outside. Forgetting to drink can have serious health consequences and even slow your metabolism, the rate at which you burn calories. Drinking water speeds your metabolism and makes you feel fuller, leaving less room for high calorie foods. Keep a bottle with you at all times, and drink an extra glass before and after meals.
Eat foods high in protein. Holiday spreads consist of foods high in fat and carbohydrates. Foods high in protein keep you full longer and are lower in calories than their high fat and high carbohydrate counterparts. Fill your plate with meat, poultry, and beans to feel full with minimal calories.
Choose your liquor wisely. Holiday drinks are full of sugar and calories and the best diets can be completely sabotaged with a single cocktail. Avoid mixing alcohol with sugary juices or high fat drinks like eggnog. Instead, strive to consume clear drinks made of your choice of alcohol mixed with tonic and lemon.
Take time to out for yourself. This is very stressful time of the year and we often resort to emotional eating to cope. It is very easy to consume an extra 1000 calories before realizing it. Combat this by scheduling three minutes yourself a day to do deep breathing. Deep breathing has physical and mental benefits, both of which will help you avoid the snack table when you are not hungry.
Use these tips to reduce your overall calorie intake and to stay healthy and happy this holiday season. You may even start the New Year weighing less than you did at the beginning of the season.
By Amanda Allen MS, CSCS