Have you ever entered the holidays with a sense of fear that the work you put into creating new behaviours that year might all be undone? Or have you entered the holidays with an intention of ‘getting healthy’ after the New Year?
If your answers are ‘yes’ please know that it is very possible to stay on top of your nutrition goals over the holidays and avoid falling into the trap of extreme post-Christmas protocols. In fact, learning how to navigate the holiday season without gaining kilos or feeling the need for a detox afterwards is key to living a long, healthy, and vital life.
Here are my top tips for keeping your nutrition goals on track these holidays:
1. Prioritise Real Food
As often as reasonable, ensure that the majority of your meals contain non-starchy vegetables, a portion of protein and good fats. Protein and fat are our satiety macronutrients – they keep your blood sugar stable and you fuller for longer. Do your best to get your hands on good quality proteins such as free range eggs, organic non-GMO tempeh and/or grass fed meats, using oils such as coconut or extra virgin olive oil and/or topping your plate with a handful of nuts and seeds or half an avocado.
2. Apply the 80/20 Rule
While there’s a good chance you can keep real food a priority for most meals, when holidays come around there may be occasions where it’s just not possible (and that’s ok!). Look at your week ahead of time and identify which occasions may require you to veer away from the perfect real food plate. If you’re only ‘writing outside of the lines’ (as I like to say) 20% of the time it’s possible to keep your health goals on track. So, enjoy the meals that mightn’t be the perfect blend of non-starchy veg, proteins and fats knowing that it’s what you do most of the time that counts.
3. Limit Alcohol
Let’s not beat around the bush here, there are two undeniable truths about alcohol. Firstly, it reduces inhibitions which means suddenly, in that moment of having your second prosecco, the 80/20 rule seems far less important. Secondly, it inhibits fat burning which is why you’ll often crave more carbs while drinking or the day after. The less you can rely on alcohol to have fun or relax over the holidays, the closer you will stay to your health goals.
4. Drink More Water
As our routine is thrown out the window, many of us forget about the importance of the basic foundation of staying hydrated. Often thirst is mistaken for hunger. If you are hit with a sugar craving or know that you’re likely to give into sugar ravings at events, drink a glass of water first and wait 15 minutes – you’ll be surprised at how much the urge subsides. Stay hydrated during the day and aim to drink at least 2L of fluid/day. Prioritising water over caffeine and alcohol will greatly assist with keeping ‘real food’ and the ‘80/20′ rules in check.
Enjoy your food and stay committed to your health goals. It is possible to do both! Happy Hoildays!