I know how crazy holidays can become, and how easy it is to let healthy eating take a backseat. I'm a nutrition and fitness expert, and even I have fallen off track time to time. Though I quickly bounce back with these seven strategies to the all-too-common holiday dietary debacles:
1. Don’t let yourself get hungry.
Snappy, lightheaded, or devouring a high-sugar impact catastrophe: The repercussions of letting yourself become famished take a toll on your waistline or peace of mind (sometimes both). The ultimate appetite suppressant and cravings crusher involves consistent eating. Start with a protein shake within an hour of waking, eat lean protein, healthy fat, carbs like quinoa, and loads of non-starchy veggies every four to six hours, and stop eating three hours before bedtime.
2. Work out.
Don’t even let that “I’ve got a zillion tasks so the gym can wait till tomorrow” get in your head. Have your attire and shoes in your bag the night before. Ask your personal trainer to bill you double if you don’t show. If a gym isn’t your game, HIIT workouts can provide a fat-blasting workout in less time than it takes to find a mall parking space in December.
3. Three bites and you’re done.
No need to become a wet blanket while everyone else raves about your coworker’s red velvet brownies. Instead, apply my three polite-bite rule: Three bites of dessert you would eat on a first date, not a midnight fridge raid. Even a little gluten and other food intolerances can derail your best efforts, so proceed accordingly.
4. Get great sleep.
Just because your office holiday party goes past midnight doesn’t mean you need to stay for the whole thing. Over-scheduling during the holidays unfairly puts good sleep on the back burner, setting the stage for hunger, cravings, and an overly caffeinated morning. Those are among the reasons you want to prioritize seven to nine hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep.
5. Start with a healthy breakfast.
Skipping or screwing up breakfast is easy to do. Take the guesswork out of your day’s most important meal with a protein shake, which if made with the right ingredients, can crush hunger and cravings for hours so those homemade gingerbread cookies don’t become your dietary downfall. Blend non-soy, non-dairy protein powder with avocado, raw kale (you won’t taste it), frozen raspberries, freshly ground flaxseed, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk for a fast, easy, and filling breakfast.
While it might fall beneath watching bad Christmas movies on the excitement scale, writing everything down becomes the easiest way to pinpoint fat-stalling glitches like overeating or food intolerances that create weight loss resistance. If you need extra incentive: One study found folks who kept a journal lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.
7. Don’t keep sweets in your home.
Even if you’ve maintained your plan, an 11 p.m. iced sugar cookie raid can quickly become your undoing. Don’t let your dietary enemy into your house. That includes healthy foods you might overeat, like almond butter. Even so, bypassing temptation around bedtime can become a herculean challenge. Crush those cravings with a glass of water.
Even with these tips, I know what a challenge curtailing cravings and maintaining dietary dignity can become during the holidays. That’s where I need your help: What strategy would you add here? Share yours below.
Photo courtesy of Lesley Bohm