By Lauren Murray
Year after year, we face the same vicious cycles during the holiday season. You get busier. The days get shorter. You attend social gatherings – one after another, after another. You’re drained, and your “willpower” begins to fade, while the temptations and excuses continue to build. But, before thinking to yourself, “I’ll just enjoy everything and get back on track in the New Year,” let’s have a look at some strategies to help you leave holidays with NO REGRET!
Eat Lighter Beforehand
If you have an event coming up that entails food and temptation, plan your meals earlier in the day to be high-protein and high-fiber to keep your overall daily caloric intake within normal range.
- Eat a high-protein breakfast with healthy fats, maybe a veggie omelette or protein pancakes with nut butter.
- Have a huge salad for lunch with lots of veggies and a protein source like chicken or salmon.
- Snack on things like Greek yogurt, nuts (watch your portions!), or veggies and hummus.
Reminder: the idea here ISN’T to starve yourself up until the event or dinner. You want to be mindful of eating more protein and vegetables, so you aren’t stuffing your face by the time the evening rolls around. You are simply allotting yourself a bit more flexibility in the evening to enjoy a couple tasty treats!
Use “The 3 TIME 8oz Rule”
If you pay attention to news about nutrition, you’ve probably heard or read that thirst can often be mistaken for hunger signals. This leads to eating instead of drinking – which is what your body is actually craving!
Make an Oath to:
- Drink an 8oz glass of water BEFORE filling your plate.
- Drink an 8oz glass of water DURING the meal (set down cutlery every few bites).
- Drink an 8oz glass of water AFTER you finish the meal.
This will not only help you feel fuller, but it will also give you time to think about your choices and whether you truly want it!
Watch Your Portion Sizes
Choose to load your plate up with mostly high-volume, satiating foods.
You can use your hand to keep things under control. Give yourself a bigger portion of vegetables (1-2x size of your hand), along with a serving of protein (about ¾ size of your hand). Then just be vigilant to take a few smaller portions of the more calorie dense foods (about the size of one hand).
This means, YES you can still enjoy them! But be mindful you aren’t going overboard by keeping the quantities within reason.
Don’t Go for Seconds
This is where most people “throw s*** out the window” per-se.
Do not feel inclined to go for another plate if you aren’t truly hungry. Use the 3 TIME 8oz Rule and at least have a glass of water before making the decision. It also helps to chew on a piece of gum to rid your taste-buds of the ‘food’ taste.
Probably nine times out of ten, you really don’t NEED that second serving and you can say no, even though your mind might tell you that you do. Remind yourself that the pleasure is just temporary, and you’ve got important goals to achieve this New Year!
Be Reactive When You DO Overindulge
So, it’s the day after… Last night maybe you failed to plan or ended up having a few too many drinks. Don’t sweat it! Results don’t happen overnight, and they won’t be gone overnight!
Yes, there has maybe been some damage done, but if you make a plan for the present and the future, then your goals won’t end up at stake. You have the ability to balance this out over the course of a few days. Your calorie/food intake needs to not be thought of as a daily trend, but instead an overall weekly trend. This means, to keep your weekly intake in check, you can either reduce your intake before or after to accommodate the “treat” meal for a given day.
Simply scale back your intake for a day or two by keeping your portion sizes slightly smaller. Opt for high-protein meals with lots of veggies and a thumb or two of healthy fats.
Additionally, try to ramp up your training intensity in the gym. Challenge yourself to put the food to work by hitting new PR’s and being on track with your cardio. Just make sure not to try and overcompensate with cardio as it can be an easily overused “tool.”
One more tip… The most important of all:
HAVE A GAME PLAN.
You must prepare yourself for the situations and temptations you will be facing – before you are actually in the moment. Be honest and realistic about the expectations you have for the holidays. If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail!
Remember that these strategies should be considered for the handful of gatherings you may attend during the holidays. The other 26 or so days of the month have no reason not to be business as usual. As long as you keep yourself structured during this time, you can afford to indulge a bit here and there, while also living your life to the fullest alongside friends and family this holiday season!