Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, most of us fall off our regular, healthy eating plans and give into the temptation of sugar cookies, second helpings and eggnog! But that doesn’t mean your diet is headed for a complete meltdown! It is possible to control your diet and stay on track during the holidays with some advanced planning and guidelines to steer your choices. Here are seven ways to stick to healthy eating this holiday season.
1. Have Your Cheat Meals Strategically
If you have been following a diet consistently, try to avoid complete diet meltdown during the holidays by planning your cheat meals. If you know you have a holiday get together coming up that will center around food, consider scheduling your bad eating days for those days.
2. Sneak In More Vegetables
Instead of reaching for the cheese tray, reach for the veggie tray. Vegetables are full of fiber, which keeps you feeling full and satisfied between meals. In addition to snacking on veggies at holiday parties, fill your plate with at least half veggies before anything else. Make sure the starchy carbs are the last thing you squeeze on there. If you are hosting an event, try making recipes with non-starchy carbohydrate replacements like cauliflower or squash mashes instead of traditional mashed starches.
3. Count Your Calories
The If It Fits Your Macros dieters got it right here. If you have never tried this diet craze, consider using it during the holidays. IIFYMs allow you some freedom without going too far off your diet. IIFYM gives you a specific breakdown of macronutrients that are not specified or necessarily limited to only certain foods. Although they do recommend that the majority of your calories come from whole, natural sources, it can provide you with some room for indulgences. You may not want to stick to this diet all the time, but during the holidays, it will help keep you in control of just how many calories you are eating.
4. Don’t Eat Inflammatory Foods
If you know certain foods irritate you, don’t start eating them because it’s the holiday. If you know you have gluten or dairy intolerances, now would not be the time to start eating them. Skip out on the bread pudding, ice cream, or any treat or side dish that maybe loaded with hidden gluten or dairy. Although many of those foods can be extremely tasty, you’re really not doing yourself any favors if you have a sensitivity to it. Inflammatory foods, foods that you are sensitive or allergic to, can make you feel bloated, tired and reduce absorption of important nutrients involved in metabolism and mood. An inflammatory response to foods you are sensitive to can trigger cortisol release, which can shut down important metabolic processes including fat burning.
5. Avoid Foods You Know You Have A Weakness For
If you know there are certain foods that you just can’t put down once you start eating it, don’t make these foods your go-to during holiday parties. Resist the urge and avoid the guilt by skipping that particular food altogether. If you know chocolate, ice cream, warm bread, salty nuts, chips or any other high calorie treat is something you just can’t put down, leave it off the menu for good. Find other treats that are satisfying and won’t leave you wanting to come back for more and more.
Eating foods that keep you coming back for more are usually foods that can cause eating addictions – such as processed foods that are higher in carbs, sugar and fat. These types of foods can release pleasure hormones, along with spikes in blood sugar and insulin, which quickly works to clear the blood of sugar. When that happens, blood sugar levels drop, along with your good feeling sugar high and, subsequently, feelings of hunger come back.
6. Back Off the Booze
Drinking alcohol is probably one of the worst things you can do when it comes to sabotaging your diet. Alcohol is considered a poison in the body, so when you drink it, the body will switch off all other metabolic processes in the body to metabolize and eliminate it from the body. When this happens the body can actually crave sugar since your body can’t metabolize carbs to feed the body. This can result in eating more than you should to help offset the blood sugar dip you are feeling. If you choose to have a drink or two, make sure they are lower in sugar and calories and drink plenty of water in-between each drink.
7. If You Slip Up, Don’t Give Up
No use feeling guilty about your decision to partake in holiday libations and treats, just let it go and get back on your plan. If you are traveling during the holidays, make your best attempt to eat as well as you can. Set a date to re-start your diet commitment when you get back to your regular schedule. Inject some new life into your diet plan by adding in new foods and new recipes you have never tried before. If you need more motivation to get back on diet track, set a fitness goal like getting into your bikini for your next beach vacation.