Staying on track with health goals is not easy, but remaining focused can be more challenging than ever when the holidays roll around. When festivities seem to always revolve around food, there can be a fine line between spreading holiday cheer and overindulging. At the same time, why feel guilty when the occasion only comes once a year?
The good news is that taking care of your health doesn’t mean sacrificing the enjoyment of the season. Navigating both happy and healthy holidays can be as easy as pie when you use proven strategies that don’t leave you feeling deprived. It’s about striking a balance so you can start the New Year better than ever. Here are five strategies to help you stay healthy during the holidays without missing out:
#1 Stick to Your Usual Meal Pattern
During the holidays, continue to eat on your usual schedule to help keep blood sugar levels stable and better manage appetite. Skipping meals, eating late and excess snacking can send glucose levels into a frenzy and lead to unintentional weight gain.
#2 Offer to Bring a Healthy Option
Festive meals and gatherings around food abound this time of year. We can almost always count on friends and family to ensure that favorite holiday foods and nostalgic treats make their way to the table. Opt to contribute produce-driven dishes to help balance out the menu. Seasonal salads, colorful fruit plates and nourishing whole grain and vegetable sides are welcome additions to holiday meals.
#3 Balance Your Plate
Keep your energy levels steady by fueling your body with balanced meals. Whether it’s a holiday dinner or a brunch with friends, check your plate for a balance of macros. For example, your protein might be poultry, beef or eggs. Your carb could be bread, potatoes or fruit. While many mains and sides naturally contain fat, added fats include ingredients like butter, salad dressing and sour cream. Finally, be sure to include a non-starchy vegetable like green salad or roasted Brussels sprouts.
#4 Practice Awareness, Not Avoidance
The availability of sweet, treats and decadent foods this time of year can be a bit overwhelming for those who are on a health journey. Placing food groups completely off limits can make them even more enticing and may lead to overeating. Instead of forbidding food, practice enjoying your favorite holiday foods in moderation.
#5 Every Day is a New Opportunity
It’s hard to get it right every time. If you fall off plan on one occasion, get back up and start again at the next chance you get. Don’t wait until Monday, the New Year or the next milestone to get back on track. Keep your self-talk positive and remember each day and every meal is an opportunity to practice self-care.