Yes, November is more than halfway over and the holidays are just around the corner! Ready or not, stores are stocking up on their Christmas decor and holiday tunes are playing throughout. Over the next month, I will be featuring a series of posts in the form of a Holiday Survival Guide. Today's post is filled with tips on getting through the holidays unscathed. By that I don't mean surviving the Black Friday shopping rush, I mean navigating the inevitable parties and holiday functions while keeping your waistline (and sanity) intact.
#1 - is to PLAN AHEAD!
Aroundtheplate.org recently posted a pin on Pinterest that "healthy eating is 80% planning and 20% follow through." I think they are spot on. Planning ahead for the holidays will prepare you to make nutritionally sound choices. For example:
#2 - Keep up with the exercise!
It's easy to let your normal workout regime fall to the wayside with holiday functions, shopping, family gatherings and travel. However, keeping active will keep the pounds off and give you a little more wiggle room when it comes to indulgences. Even better- make a date with a friend to keep you accountable. The holidays are about spending quality time with family and friends, so choose to do something active together!
#3 - Mind your portion sizes
Whether at a holiday party or sitting down for Christmas dinner, make it a point to only fill your plate once and try to model it off the MyPlate: Aim for 1/2 your plate to be fruits and vegetables, 1/4 to be a source of lean protein and 1/4 to grains.
#4 - "Pre-load" before holiday functions
Have a tendency to overeat at potluck luncheons or parties? Research has shown that drinking a glass of water before a meal, or even a salad or bowl of broth-based soup can help curb your appetite and prevent over-eating. I recommend a piece of fruit, string cheese, greek yogurt or light soup as a great snack to help you enter into such situations fueled vs. fasted, which will in turn help you to make healthier choices (similar to the fact that it's not good to go grocery shopping while hungry).
#5 - Be selective with your indulgences
Similar to #1, plan ahead. If you look forward to grandma's deep dish apple pie every Thanksgiving, choose to make this your major indulgence of the week. Relatives' tend to be food-pushers? If it's something you're truly not craving, politely state that you're not hungry or just say no.
#6 - Monitor yourself
Maintain an exercise and food journal over the winter months and weight yourself regularly. If not daily, once or twice a week should suffice. That way, there are no surprises when you step on the scale in January. Self-monitoring will allow your to make adjustments such as exercising more or indulging less and keep you on track to meet your goals.
#7 - Have a goal!
I personally think having an athletic goal that you are working towards in early 2013 is the best way to keep yourself on track. Don't wait until the new year to set all your goals and resolutions - do so now and start working towards it! Sign up for a spring marathon or hit the gym to build some muscle in the winter months.
#8 - Start a new tradition
Gather the whole family to do a "turkey trot," "jingle bell" or new years' 5k. Go out and do some active volunteer work. Or swap out the post-feast football watching at Thanksgiving for some family flag football! Be creative!
#9 - Practice mindful eating
The holidays are a great time to be more aware of what you're putting in your mouth. Choose to eat while sitting at the table and take your time. Avoid the temptation of holding a conversation by the food table of a party and mindlessly grazing as you talk. Avoid grazing all day long by planning out meals and snacks.
#10 - Eliminate "all or nothing" thinking
SO MANY people will use the weeks leading up to the new year as an excuse to over-indulge with the thought of "I'll start my diet in January." Avoid falling into this trap! Remember that sustainable lifestyle change is a matter of treating you and your body with greater respect. Indulgences are inevitable, so don't beat yourself up if you accidentally overdo it. Put it behind you and vow to do better the next time.
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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