It’s hard to believe that here in the states, Thanksgiving Day is right around the corner. If you’ve been working hard to achieve your weight loss or shape change goals, you may be wondering how you’ll be able to survive a holiday known for feasting on tasty food. Not to mention the amount of sitting that soon follows as you rest and digest! Plus, we all know that once the Thanksgiving holiday comes and goes, it is easy to let this one day turn into a full-on “season’s eatings” as you head into the New Year.
Instead of feeling like you’ll need to work twice as hard to undo the “damage” of indulging this holiday season, let’s discuss 4 tips and tricks to help make this Turkey Day (and the following holidays) a healthy one! More importantly, even though holidays come around once a year, these tips can be used year-round during other special days and celebrations, such as a birthday, anniversary, or fun family gathering!
- Saving your calories for a feast or “banking up” for a bigger meal may backfire. Skipping meals in an effort to save up calories for an indulgent meal can easily backfire or throw your SHMEC out of check. It’s not unusual for healthy decisions around food choices to go out the window when you allow yourself to get too hungry. Suddenly all the appetizers look amazing and you are eating to make the “hangry” go away! Or, cravings may spike as you start looking at all of the delicious foods around you, making it much more difficult to stick to healthy food choices and eating habits.
If you feel like it would be best to save up some calories for a larger dinner, try to delay your first meal by 1-2 hours, and make sure each meal or snack leading up to your holiday meal is full of fiber and protein. This is a version of intermittent fasting often referred to as a “condensed eating window”. When it isn’t used as part of other extreme methods, this can be a helpful strategy to stay within a healthy calorie range for your weight management goals without throwing SHMEC out of check.
- Break your fast with a hearty high protein, high fiber breakfast to help with balancing your blood sugar. When you are ready to have your first meal of the day, aim to incorporate foods that are high in protein and fiber. A protein shake is a perfect option, and you can make it extra voluminous and hearty by adding in extra ice, avocado, chia seeds, or frozen berries.
After breaking your fast, you might find yourself getting a bit peckish. In these cases, aim to eat a balanced snack that contains protein, fiber, and healthy fat so that your blood sugar will be more stable going into your larger meal. When blood sugar levels are stable, we often feel more in control of our portions. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will also help to ensure that your thirst isn’t being mistaken for hunger, which is a pretty common mistake for many of us.
- Balance your holiday meal plate to help maintain your weight. Weight maintenance during the holiday season is still a big win. This tip is of particular importance when gearing up for a holiday gathering. A balanced plate is one that contains high quality protein sources, good fats (such as avocado or olives), and complex carbohydrates (non-starchy vegetables are ideal).
Leave some room for about 3-5 bites of your favorite starchier foods, such as potatoes, rice, stuffing, or corn. This perfect pairing of your 3 macronutrients will keep your metabolism humming, your mood stable, and your blood sugar stable. And knowing that you can have 3-5 bites of your favorite high-starch foods will make you feel less deprived and more content with your decisions.
- Keep close tabs on your stress levels. Recognize when it’s time to step away from the crowd, or invite others for some leisurely movement. In order to keep your energy up on a day that may drain you mentally and physically, make sure you take a time-out for some “you” time! Slow down, pause, breathe, and gently move your body. Try meditating, yoga, leisurely walking, or taking a hot bath. Anything that allows you to recharge and reset your batteries is ideal!
I love the idea of taking a pre or post-meal walk with your loved ones. However, if you need some time alone in the midst of larger gatherings that might feel a bit chaotic, excuse yourself to a quiet space and connect back to your core. Think about things that you are grateful for and slow your breathing down. Then when you feel refreshed, head back to the company of others and congratulate yourself for taking time for yourself!
Remember that the holidays and other celebrations are a time to give thanks for the joy and support your loved ones provide, and the perfect time to embrace living in the moment. Even amidst the hustle and bustle, or holiday chaos, there is always an opportunity to slow down and savor the food and the company around you while also continuing to meet your personal wellness goals.
We’d love to know how you plan to use these tips to make this holiday season one that allows for continued goal achievement rather than feeling like more of an uphill battle once the New Year arrives!
Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash