How to Eat Healthy and still have Fun during the Holidays!

We know a lot of people that  get really stressed out about the holidays.   The thought of all of the parties and family events, the food, and the drinks.  But with a little bit of advanced planning the season doesn’t have to be one of total excess or weight gain. Rob and I have used these tips and in the past 16 years and we are proud to tell you that neither one of us has gained any weight during the holidays and we still manage to enjoy the season!

Party food can be super tempting and it can derail all of your good intentions but here’s the good news: you’re much more in control than you might think and there’s plenty you can do to stay on track and still have fun.

Get plenty of sleep

This is number #1 on our list and over the years has become a non negotiable.  Now you may not think that the amount of sleep you get the night before will matter too much.  But in reality, a bad night’s sleep can mean that you eat hundreds more calories more the next day.

We’ve linked to the Forbes article you’ll be fascinated as to what drives you to reach for certain foods.  Be consistent – get into a healthy sleep regimen, getting into bed at the same time every night, you’ll be amazed at how great you will feel!

Never go to an event hungry

If you’re tempted to eat little (or nothing!) before you go out this holiday season, think again! You might assume you’ll be “saving” your calories for later but you’re more likely to be giving yourself the green light to eat a lot more than you intended.

If you’ve ever found yourself picking up junk food in the grocery store while shopping hungry, you’ll know the negative impact it can have on your food choices. And this is why you don’t want to show up to holiday parties on an empty stomach either.

It’s fine to leave a bit of room for festive food but you definitely don’t want to be ravenous when you turn up. This is a surefire recipe for wanting to eat everything in sight!

Make sure that you start your day with a healthy breakfast that includes protein, eggs are the perfect go to meal!  Enjoy a lighter lunch and still make sure to get in healthy proteins! Then later on in the day around 20 to 30 minutes before you leave home can be super helpful for stopping you snacking at the party.  Eat a filling snack that won’t spike your blood sugar, a small handful of unsalted nuts such as almonds or walnuts is perfect.

Practice Moderation vs Total Restriction

Tempted to eat less or work out more in the run up to a holiday party? We’ve said it for years but you can never out exercise a poor diet and this type of thinking keeps you trapped in a never ending downward cycle.

This can work against you as you’re more likely to overeat when you get there. You’re usually better off sticking to your normal eating and fitness plans an focus on making good food choices.   At a minimum see if  you can get outdoors for a 30 brisk minute walk in mother nature, bundle up, hold hands and enjoy!

Go for healthier options

If there’s a mix of healthy and not-so-healthy choices at the buffet table, it’s the perfect opportunity to make sure that you can enjoy some party foods.

Spot some crudites? Grab a handful. They’ll help to fill you up and won’t pile on the calories. Just make sure that you don’t dunk them in high calorie dips that are also likely to be loaded with fat too. Guacamole or hummus are good choices but most other dips will be a calorie bomb.

Research suggests that you’ll eat more calories on your first trip to the buffet table so you can do yourself a big favor if you go for healthier and low calorie options then.

Eat mindfully

It takes around 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know that you’re full. In that time, you could easily have eaten the equivalent of a meal without even thinking about it.  Also, eat until you are 70% to 80% full and not stuffed reaching for your stretchy pants! (or removing your belt)

Taking a more mindful approach to your eating can help to avoid this. To start things off, if there is a choice of smaller appetizer plates use that instead of a larger one. This way you can go for small helpings of the party food you fancy and really savor eating them. Small bites and chewing your food thoroughly can be super helpful for this.

When you’re done, distract yourself for a bit. Make sure to get around to all of the other guests and then 20 minutes later check in with yourself to see if you’re really still hungry. Chances are, you’ll find that you’re not. This has always been one of Coach Rob’s favorites because it really does work!

Drink Mindfully

It’s not just what you put on your plate that you need to think about – liquid calories also count and they can add up more than you may realize. Alcohol and soda are empty calories and don’t add nutritional value at all. That’s not to say that you can’t drink – be mindful of what you drink and what it’s contributing in terms of calories, sugars and so on.

Make sure you are properly hydrated to begin with and drink a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks in particular to pace yourself. That way, you can still have a drink but you’re won’t go overboard. And it goes without saying  but it’s always important to make sure there is a designated driver or use an Uber!

Remember that this food will always be there

It took 30+ years for me to “get it”.  I finally understood that nothing in my life would change if I didn’t have another cookie or more appetizers. When I realized that those same foods were around 27/7 – 365,  I started to politely say No to myself (and others).

I changed my focus on WHY I was eating more than I should and slowed down.  I learned to to enjoy the real meaning of the holidays and never looked back.

We wish you a warm, healthy and happy holiday season!

Shannon & Rob Yontz