With the holidays just around the corner, you can almost smell all the food and baked goods already. There are so many social gatherings and parties, so how can anyone say no to ALL of it? Well, my philosophy about living the Fit Life is “everything in moderation.” With that said, I have put together some tips and advice below that will help you “cheat” a little, but also help you maintain your physique during this holiday season.
Eat Before You Go
When you go to a party and you are hungry, you’re much more likely to make poor food choices. Before you leave, eat something that contains protein and/or fiber. This will stunt your appetite and leave you feeling full longer than if you ate something with carbohydrates only.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is very important all of the time— not just during the holidays. However, if you are feeling hungry while at a gathering and there are no healthy choices, you can achieve the “full” feeling by simply drinking water. Not only will you stay hydrated, but you will also curb your appetite.
Bring a Healthy Dish
Many gatherings will have some healthy choices to snack on before and after the main meal is on the table. Most of the time there are raw veggies and fruit to snack on, but just in case, bring your own healthy dish to pass around. That way, if there happens to be zero healthy options, you know you have one.
Watch Your Portions
Like I mentioned earlier, everything in moderation. If you want a piece of pie, by all means have it. The trick is to only take a small portion of it just to curb your craving for the food. I don’t think depriving yourself is a very good idea, because in most cases it just makes you want it more! Having things that aren’t necessarily on your list of “good healthy choices” won’t hurt you if you don’t make it a habit of continually eating that particular food and if you don’t overdo it.
Not only will protein help build and maintain lean muscle mass, but it will also help you feel full.
Enjoy Your Food
When sitting down for a meal, make sure you take your time and enjoy what you are eating. It is all about the experience— spending time with family and friends and living in the moment. When you rush through the meal, the experience isn’t quite as satisfying and it often leads to seconds and overeating, since you are not allowing your brain enough time to tell you that you are full.
The best way to not pack on some extra pounds during the holiday is to not only make sure you continually work out, but to work out the day after the gathering. I make sure to hit the weights hard the NEXT day and push all that good food into a weak body part. For example, if I am trying to gain muscle in my shoulders, I would train my shoulders the day after the holiday meal. Your strength and energy should be up from the caloric influx, so take full advantage of it!
Skip the Alcohol or Limit Intake
Obviously, if I were to give a recommendation, I would say skip the alcohol altogether. But let’s face it, most people are going to have a drink or two during the holidays. If you are going to drink, avoid the fruity drinks. Think of each one like a dessert. If you have five fruity drinks, it is similar to having five pieces of cake— in addition to all of the other rich foods you will be having during dinner.
Ignore the Pressure
There is a lot of peer pressure during the holidays. “Come on, one bite won’t hurt!” “What do you mean you aren’t drinking?” or “You HAVE to try this!” are common phrases I have heard in the past. If your goal is to have one dessert or one drink, stick to your guns and politely say, “No, thank you!” Whatever you do, don’t look back and regret one thing.
Pumpkin Protein Shake
Try this recipe after your next workout!
4 ice cubes
2 cups unsweetened original almond milk
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1 tbsp chia seeds or ground flaxseeds
3 tbsp pumpkin puree
3 shakes of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon (or as much as you desire)
Blend together and enjoy!