When the holidays hit, there's nothing better than spending time with the ones you love and feasting on some amazing food! If you're trying to watch your weight, all of the seasonal cookies, cakes and casseroles can let your grazing get out of hand.
Whether you're heading to a holiday party or hosting friends and family for the main event, follow these simple rules throughout the season and you'll be able to enjoy ANY holiday spread without stressing about your waistline.
Prepare in Advance
✓ Plan on making your other two meals for the day light and healthy. It's all about balance! Grab a smoothie for breakfast and a salad for lunch, knowing you’ll be eating heavier for your holiday dinner.
✓ If you're not hosting, bring something that's healthy. If all else fails, you know you'll have at least one healthy option to eat.
As an alternative to a traditional sweet potato casserole, bake sweets in a dish topped with a dash of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. Top them with crushed candied pecans just before serving.
✓ If you're hosting, swap out unhealthy ingredients with healthier ones. If you're unsure where to start or how to replace highly-processed foods with healthier, FfL-friendly (clean, nutritious, good-for-you) choices, our FULLforLife Website has the FULL breakdown on healthy, whole food swaps.
✓ Don’t mingle around pre-dinner snack foods that may be sitting out. It leads to temptation... Before eating dinner, stay out of reach of food. You’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor soon. Don’t blow it on snacks. Instead, drink water!
When Laying Out the Food Spread
✓ Serve it anywhere except on the table! We don't know about you, but if food is in front of us, we're bound to continue picking at it even after we should throw in the towel. Rather than serving your holiday spread on the dining room table, pre-plate the meal or set it up buffet style somewhere that's not within arm’s reach to tempt you. Because you're a lot less likely to get up from the table to grab seconds, this can save you from consuming A BUNCH of extra calories.
Sitting Down to Eat
✓ Drink a HUGE glass of water before you even pick up a plate. This helps you feel full, curbs hunger and combats overeating. Plus, water does all kinds of great things for your body. The more the better!
✓ Take inventory, prioritize your favorite foods and pay attention to your portions. It's easy to get out of control when you have a mouth-watering spread of food in front of you. Before you start piling food onto your plate, take inventory of everything there is to choose from. When you grab a plate, choose ONE or TWO of your favorite cheat foods and DON’T pile them sky high! There's nothing wrong with a little balance, that’s why we promote the 80/20 Approach (more on that HERE)! Just keep the cheat food to the 20%, not the 80! For a SUPER simple way to identify serving sizes, check out our Portion Guide (HERE).
✓ Don't go crazy with starchy carbs. Keep it to 1/2 a cup, which is about the size of a tennis ball. If you want some roasted potatoes and stuffing, pass on the dinner rolls.
✓ Contain yourself when it comes to condiments. Gravy and other toppings can REALLY rack up calories! We're not saying avoid them all together, just don’t splurge on them either.
✓ Remember your hunger/fullness cues. Keep your taste buds happy by showing them some love, but don't forget to stay vigilant in listening to when your tummy feels content with the amount you've eaten. Check in with yourself mid-way through your meal and take a mental note of how you're feeling. Remember, there's no need to finish what's on your plate. Respect your body by not pushing it past its point of fullness.
✓ Watch your liquid calories! Alcoholic or not, all of us love a cold, refreshing drink during the holidays. Our Fall Tuscan Fizz is the perfect example of this, since we'll be serving it alongside our Holiday Spread this year! Stay away from soda (yes, even diet soda), juices from concentrate and other sugary drinks. Instead, make a drink that you can sip on without all the sugar. Bring club soda or seltzer water and squeeze fresh fruit (oranges are my personal fav) in your drink! (For an alcoholic drink, vodka goes great with this.) If you're unsure of which beverages to choose and which to avoid, check out our FULL breakdown on beverages.
✓ Choose ONE small dessert to indulge in. The holidays just wouldn't be the same if you didn't allow yourself a small sliver of deliciously sweet dessert... just watch how much you're putting on your plate. Also, choose desserts that are made with real food ingredients. If there's a store-bought pie with canned pie filling or a plate of homemade cookies, opt for the one with the better ingredients (that would be the cookies in this case)!
✓ Last, when you’re finished eating, PUT THE FOOD AWAY! Having the spread still sitting out within sight (and smell!) leads to temptation. Once you've eaten, clean up and put away all your leftovers for later!
After You Eat
✓ Don’t fret about fitness! The holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy being together with the ones you love, not worrying about exercising. A happy medium? After you're done eating, rather than getting comfy on the couch, help all that deliciousness digest by getting everyone together to take a nice walk!
Studies have shown that women who diet during the holidays and restrict themselves from enjoying any of their holiday favorites end up with more cravings, or worse... it can lead to binge eating at their next meal.
When the holidays hit, it's important to enjoy all of the festivities, but do it with balance and bounce back immediately after. Hold yourself accountable and revert back to your healthy habits after each event, rather than throwing your routine (and hard work) to the wayside every November and December. We promise, if you follow these simple rules you'll keep your mind and body happy (without all that weight-gain worry).
Cheers to a WonderFULL holiday season!
Pam and Kalie