When we think of Christmas (and Thanksgiving for my American friends) we almost always associate it with lots and lots of food. For someone who is on a fitness journey or trains regularly this can be a little overwhelming, thinking along the lines of ‘how will I stay on track?’, ‘Or I’m going to ruin all my hard work’. Now, first off I’m going to say that the holidays are a time to be enjoyed and not to be feeling restricted. There are so many more things to enjoy about the holidays than just food. One of the most important things is family and relationships with loved ones. So, I’ve come up with a few holiday healthy tips to keep you from falling off the wagon this Christmas, not in any particular order of importance.
Drink water (and lots of it)
This is something people say time and time again but it is still often overlooked. When feeling hungry, you may just be thirsty so drink water before reaching for some food. Alternate your alcoholic drinks with water. This will not only help you to reduce your calories taken in with drink but also stop you from getting drunk. That can possibly lead you to end up in the pizza shop at the end of the night getting 2 pizzas, a burger, and chips!
Schedule in some movement
Whether this is getting a run or workout in, on the morning of a day where you know there is going to be a lot of food on offer or just going for a family, run after lunch/dinner. This will not only get you burning a few calories. It also helps to aid digestion, compared to moving from the table to crashing on the couch. If you are the more fitness inclined person of the family, try and get others involved, whether it’s a holiday workout or even a family football game – who knows, you may even start a new holiday tradition!
Limit your indulgence to the most meaningful days
Don’t be indulging every day just because we’re not into December. There is going to plenty of time for that. So when you have the chance to cook for yourself and make healthy choices take them.
Load up your plate with protein and veggies first
If you have a big buffet-style dinner (like my family does), for your first plate fill it with meat and vegetables. These foods will probably have the most nutritional value and be the most satiating foods. These will fill you up faster than the likes of potatoes and Yorkshire puddings (Americans, you’re missing out, you seriously need to try these). After that plate, go back and get the more carb-laden stuff, my bet is you’ll probably eat less of them.
Take your time to eat
When eating takes your time! This goes for every meal, but especially at Christmas. Especially if you are normally quite strict with your diet. Enjoy each mouthful and be mindful of what you are eating. Studies have shown that putting your cutlery down in between bites of food can reduce the overall amount eaten. With the pulling of crackers (not sure if that’s just a British thing) and chatting to the family, you perhaps haven’t seen throughout the year I’m sure you’ll be able to take time between bites.
Take your own healthy contribution
Now I’m not talking about taking your own separate dinner of chicken and broccoli (please don’t be that person). But no one is going to say no to you bringing a dish to add to the food on offer. If you know all the food is full of duck fat, cream (add any other calorie-dense food here), then bring a dish which is a healthy alternative. Of course, everyone can have if they wish. Then you have at least one healthy option and you look kind and generous rather than a boring weirdo!
Eat the desserts/sweets that matter
What I mean by this is if your auntie Linda makes an amazing chocolate fudge cake, that she only ever makes on Christmas, eat that and fully enjoy it. Don’t be eating cookies or chocolate that you can get at any time of year and isn’t associated with Christmas (or Thanksgiving).
The holiday season is a time to enjoy it and spend time with people you love, doing family traditions and eating food. Food is a big part of the holidays for a lot of families (it definitely is for mine). And you know, if you do overindulge, it’s a day or a couple of days. Don’t beat yourself up about it, get yourself back on track with nutrition and into the gym. Remember if you are pretty consistent all year round. A couple of days of overindulgence isn’t going to ruin all your hard work.
Keep it healthy and enjoy the holidays!
-Angela from Virtual Personal Training