Did you know that the average American gains between 3-5 pounds of unwanted fat during the holiday season?
The holiday season is a wonderful time to share love, laughter and lots of good food with friends and family.
But you don’t have to resign yourself to a month of over-indulging, being a couch potato, and putting on the pounds.
With only two weeks to go until Thanksgiving, and seven weeks until we ring in 2014, I thought this would be a good time to share my top tips for navigating the holiday season.
Yes, you can stay on track with your fitness goals without sacrificing the joys of fun, friends and your favorite holiday treats.
Here are my top 7 strategies for staying healthy during the holiday season.
- Abolish all or nothing thinking. If you over-indulge one day, you don’t have to punish yourself with guilt or slide down the slippery slope. Just enjoy the moment and get back on track at the very next meal.
- Have a plan for parties, family dinners and other tempting occasions. Offer to bring tasty, healthy appetizers or snacks that everyone will enjoy. You are more likely to avoid temptation if you have thought ahead and set your intention to choose healthy options.
Lot of your favorite holiday recipes can be “made over” to trim unnecessary sugar and fat. Click here for some great ideas from the Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/holiday-recipes/NU00645
Eating well also has an entire page devoted to healthy Thanksgiving recipes. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_thanksgiving_recipes
- Eat a high-protein snack (such as a handful of almonds), smoothie or nutrition bar before heading out to your event. If your body feels full and well-nourished, you are less likely to over-indulge.
- Choose your treats wisely. Aim for around 400 calories 4 times per day. If you choose healthy snacks, you can afford larger portions. For example, at a cocktail buffet, you can have 1 ¾ cups crudités with ¼ cup hummus, 10 shrimp with cocktail sauce, and 5 crackers with 1 oz. of low-fat cheese for a total of only 341 calories.
Prevention Magazine’s 400 Calories Fix has tons of great ideas for 400 calories snacks and meals that won’t leave you feeling deprived. http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/400-calorie-snacks-low-calorie-meals
- Sip sparkling water with lime to join in the holiday spirit without adding unwanted calories. If you choose to indulge in cocktails, a white wine spritzer with fruit is a festive option that only adds 60 calories to your total. You can also alternate your chosen cocktail with sparkling water to stay hydrated and cut calories.
- Focus on all the things you CAN eat instead of the things you should avoid. The season is full of healthy super-foods such as anti-oxidant rich pumpkin and sweet potatoes, cranberries and apples. If you don’t slather them with butter and sugar, they will provide your body with the extra nutrients it needs to keep up with the busy holiday rush.
Fitness magazine has a great list of holiday superfoods to get you started. http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/superfoods/healthy-holiday-superfoods/?page=1
- Find ways to celebrate that get you up and moving. Go ice skating, dancing or hiking with friends. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Connect with the true spirit of the holidays, and observe how much joy there is to be found in simple pleasures.
The holidays don’t have to be a recipe for disaster for your health and fitness, but advance preparation is the key. Get started now experimenting with healthy holiday recipes, stock up your cupboard, and share the gift of health with your family and friends this holiday season.
You may just start the New Year in better shape than you could have imagined!
What is your favorite healthy holiday tip? Leave a comment to share your favorite tip, resource or recipe.