During the year you do a great job of staying on track with your nutrition and fitness goals. You make time to exercise, go grocery shopping, you drink enough water, and you get sufficient sleep. As soon as the holiday’s come, however, you may notice these routines start to suffer.
It feels like every night, every weekend there’s somewhere to be or something to do. We attend parties, stay up late, eat foods we typically wouldn’t and recover by planting ourselves on the couch. Often this type of schedule results in weight gain, but not this year.
Check out these 6 tips you can implement to help avoid weight gain this Christmas:
1. Identify Your Go-To Foods.
Holiday parties tend to feature higher calorie and sugar-packed foods, and while you may have to search through the sea of chocolate turtles and peppermint fudge, there is always waist-friendly food at the party. Find a vegetable or fruit platter, hummus, or quality meats, such as turkey or roast beef, and aim to fill 80% of your plate with these nutrient-dense foods. For the other 20% of your plate, grab the foods you want to enjoy, like dessert or specialty appetizers. It’s okay to treat yourself to these foods (-and even grab seconds), just be sure to follow the 80-20 rule when loading up your plate so that you can enjoy the holiday’s guilt-free.
If you’re worried about the lack of healthy snacks at a party, bring one! Check out my Skinny Spinach Dip (link) for a clean, healthy appetizer that will be the hit of the party.
2. Eat Before the Party.
It may seem like a good idea to skip breakfast and lunch in favour of the party later that evening, but this strategy is bound to backfire. By skipping meals and giving yourself permission to pig out, you will. People who adopt this mindset tend to eat more calories in that one meal than they would have if they had maintained regular eating habits. This is partly because when you are hungry, foods that typically would not appeal to you suddenly seem delicious and you dive into the plateful.
Instead of starving yourself, aim to eat smaller meals throughout the day with nutrients that you likely won’t have later. Foods that are high in fats and carbs tend to be the spotlight of the refreshment table, so you should aim to eat protein and vegetables during the day. For example, you could have a protein smoothie, carrots and celery, greek yogurt or scrambled eggs to keep your appetite under control.
3. Water, then wine.
Staying hydrated plays a huge role in fat loss, transporting nutrients, aiding digestion, regulating body temperature, and cushioning your joints. When you don’t drink enough water, your body becomes less efficient at breaking down and mobilizing fat cells. Make it your goal this month to maintain your water intake and not let the holiday’s get the best of you. It’s no secret that alcohol and sugary beverages are dehydrating, so for every drink you have, follow it by 1 – 2 glasses of water. When you do this, you will help your body maintain a steady rate of fat metabolism, and you may even avoid a headache the following morning.
4. Eat at home.
If you are like me your holiday season includes to-do lists and a calendar filled with festive engagements. This probably means that you’re eating of the house 1 – 3 days a week and you’re busier than usual. The last thing on your mind is what’s for dinner, which might mean you’re calling the Mexican place down the road for take-out.
When you don’t make your own meals, you don’t know what’s going into it, how much oil the cook has used, how many cups of rice they’ve added, or how much sauce or dressing was added to your meal. These high-calorie items can quickly and easily push you into a caloric surplus, leading to weight gain.
Instead, take the time each week to plan out what you want to eat and go grocery shopping for those items. It may feel like an extra chore to check off the list, but I promise that you will feel less stressed around meal time and you will know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
If you really feel like you don’t have time to plan meals or grocery shop this time of year, try a local meal delivery service. My favourite is Fresh Prep because they use clean, whole-food ingredients to make delicious, healthy recipes. They deliver meals straight to your door and each meal takes 30 minutes or less to cook with their pre-cut ingredients and easy instructions.
Follow this link below to get your first week of meals for only $29!
5. Move your body.
If you are waiting for January to get fit, you’re not doing yourself any favours. Tomorrow is just as good a day as January 1st for a fresh start. Be proactive with your goals and let exercise slowly become a part of your life over the yuletide season. Begin with one walk a week, then 2, and so on. By the time the New Year comes along, you’ll already have established habits that will help you maintain your weight loss going into the New Year.
At least 3 times a week give your body purposeful movement. Head outside for a walk, try a fitness class, book a training session or call your workout buddy. Do what works best for you to stay active, healthy and accountable to yourself.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out my favourite workouts here.
6. Give yourself a bedtime.
Between the parties, shopping, and festivities of the season, going to bed on time and getting enough sleep likely isn’t at the top of your to-do list – but it should be! It’s recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night to help your body feel, look and function at its best. Over time sleep deprivation can cause weight gain through changes to your metabolism, spiking your stress hormone cortisol, decreasing immune system function, and impairing judgment.
Give yourself a bedtime and a bedtime routine to help you combat unwanted weight gain this season. Try turning off screens, reading a book, having a relaxing bath- or curl up with a cup of tea and listen to some Christmas tunes.