The holiday season is upon us! It’s an exciting time, full of food, fun, and festivities. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when many people overindulge and gain unwanted pounds. It’s easy to do when you are bombarded with treats and candy at seemingly every turn. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, it can be discouraging to work hard to lose weight and get in shape, just to gain it all back over the holiday season. As a nutrition coach, one of the things I do is help my clients navigate the real world and learn ways to stay on track, even during the holiday season.

So what can you do to stay on track?! Here are a few tips I have learned from my education with NASM and personal experience

Offer to bring a dish

If you are going to a party, offer to bring a dish so that you know you will have at least one healthy option there. You can bring a salad, veggie tray, fruit platter, or other healthy dish. There may be other health conscious people at the party who will be grateful for a healthy dish too. 

Eat lightly on the day of the event

Eat lightly, but do not starve yourself, during the hours before the event or party you are planning to attend. Starving, or under-eating, in preparation for a party will only increase the likelihood of overeating while you are there. Instead, eat small, nutrient-dense meals with a lean protein and high fiber carbohydrate. 

Some suggestions are

  • Whole grain toast with eggs and fruit
  • Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and fruit and/or nuts
  • Salad with lean protein
  • Whole grain wrap with lean protein and veggies

Set a drink limit ahead of time

Predetermining the amount of drinks you plan to have ahead of time will help you stay on track. Start the evening with a non alcoholic drink, and make sure to drink at least one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume so you can stay hydrated. 

Monitor portions

Focus on lean proteins and vegetables for your appetizers and the main portion of your meal, with a small amount of a few higher calorie foods. When you are putting foods on your plate, follow the guidelines from USDA My Plate.

Prioritize certain foods

The holidays are a time when we have the opportunity to eat foods that aren’t offered during other times of the year. (Pumpkin pie anyone?) Instead of indulging in ALL of the seasonal dishes, pick a few that you want to indulge in and enjoy a small amount of each. You can skip your everyday foods, like bread or pasta, and enjoy the stuffing instead. If you know you are going to have a slice of your aunt’s famous pie, it’s worth it to skip the carb dense portion of dinner. This way you can still indulge without going overboard and consuming too many excess calories. 

Don’t stand next to the food table

When you’re standing around chatting with friends and family at a party, don’t do it next to the food table. It makes it much easier to eat mindlessly if you are busy having a conversation and you can easily eat a few hundred calories, or more, without realizing it. 

Eat mindfully

Sit down when you are eating and pay attention to your food. Savor each bite, chew it thoroughly, and pay attention to your body’s hunger and satiation cues. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry, not when you feel stuffed!

Freeze food gifts

If you receive treats or baked goods as gifts, and you don’t want to throw them out, wrap them in individual servings in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. This way, they will last longer and it is much harder to overindulge because you have to wait for the treat to thaw before you can eat it. 

The last thing anyone needs during the holiday season is more stress. With some planning and thoughtfulness, you can navigate parties and enjoy your time with family and friends, without undoing all of your hard work! Follow these tips to stay on track during the holiday season. If you need help staying active during the holiday season, book a session with one of our trainers at Fit Focus Laconia and let us help you!

Deanna Mazzei