How to eat your way through a guilt-free holiday season

diet, holiday, Olumia Life, snacks

holiday eating

 

With Thanksgiving nothing more than some leftovers at the back of the fridge, and more holidays to come, it can start to feel like your dietary goals are on sabbatical until January. Staying healthy during the coming tide of decadent desserts, sugary drinks and epic serving-sizes can be done. And without much effort! Now should be a time of good cheer, so let’s go through some simple ways to keep you feeling good about yourself and your health throughout the holiday season.

Snacks and treats

Chocolate and other sugary delights abound during the holidays. From hot chocolate, spiced lattes and eggnog, to caramel corn, candy canes and cake, chances to cheat on your nutrition goals are everywhere. However, you can still enjoy treats sometimes without having to go full Ebenezer Scrooge on the variety of your menu options.

Instead of sugar-filled beverages, try to stick to tea, coffee and water. On a winter morning, a hot tea with lemon can be as comforting as it is refreshing. Sparkling water is a great way to stay healthy without losing the bubbles in your drinks.

When it comes to snacks, nuts, fruits, and high protein items are best. There are also plenty of great fruits and vegetables that are in season during the cold months of the year. Brussel sprouts roasted with some olive oil are a great side dish for a meal and a warm snack for the afternoon. Cabbage, winter squash and carrots are good ingredients for a salad or steaming bowl of soup. And don’t forget about sweet potatoes! They’re packed with vitamins, fiber and more.

A healthy holiday meal

It’s not feasible to try and change the menu at every holiday gathering; you run the risk of being the Grinch of dinner, stealing other people’s treats. In fact, more often than not, you’ll be attending a big dinner made by someone else anyway. If it’s a potluck meal, it’d be fine to bring your own healthy dish to ensure that there is something festive but still friendly to your nutrition goals on the table.

One thing you can control at big meals is serving size. You don’t need half a plate of mashed potatoes! Survey your selections and identify which qualify as a source of primarily protein, starch, sugar and vegetable/fruit (canned cranberry sauce doesn’t count as a veggie). Then follow a few guidelines as you eat:

  • Eat more protein, like turkey or ham, than starch, like bread and potatoes.
  • Don’t double up on your starch servings (like eating a full helping of stuffing as well as potatoes). Instead, split the servings in half and combine them as one starch.
  • Always, always, always get a serving of fruit and vegetables into your meal.
  • Minimize the sugar on your plate as much as possible.
  • If you have a glass of wine or some other alcoholic or sugary drink with dinner, don’t make it your primary beverage but more of a side-beverage. Stick to water as your main drink.

How can you say no to your grandmother’s pie, or should you?

Dessert is one time there isn’t much you can do about eating a bit unhealthy, especially when the desserts offered are out of your control. The main thing to do is minimize how much you indulge. Avoid the mammoth slice of pie, cake, etc., that you might want. If you eat your fill during dinner, especially if you focus on protein and vegetables, you won’t even be all that hungry for dessert.

OK, OK, you’re still going to cheat. Don’t stress out about it

There’s no need to make yourself miserable because you’re skipping out on all your favorite foods, nor should you. If you’re being honest with yourself, you’re probably not being perfect about your eating habits. That’s OK! There are lots of other ways you can mitigate the damage and help yourself out. Each area of your health is interconnected, meaning that you can bolster the success of your diet by being active and getting enough sleep.

When it’s cold out, you may not feel too much like going for a walk, but a little constitutional after a meal is a great way to get your heart rate up and burn off some of the extra calories you might have consumed. There are also lots of little exercises, like push-ups, sit-ups and yoga, that you can do from the warmth of your own home.

Sleep, or rather, ensuring you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, will help keep your metabolism from slowing, aid weight loss, reduce stress and keep you energetic.

At the end of the day, the best thing to do about holiday eating is preparing yourself. In the Olumia Life plan, you can use a Cheat HalfDay to allow yourself more flexibility with your diet. Since you know ahead of time when your holiday feasts will commence, you can save your Cheat HalfDay for when you know you’ll need it most.

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