The next six weeks are some of the hardest to navigate if you are actively thinking about your nutrition. As the holidays slowly approach with parties and work gatherings, the calories can quickly pile up. After our successful Balanced Habits Kickstart, we picked up a few tips and tricks on how you can enjoy the end of 2018 but keep your goals on track.
The holidays are a festive time and you should enjoy them! But enjoy everything in moderation! Controlling the portion sizes of the food that you consume is one of the key ways to improve weight loss. People are generally terrible at estimating the number of calories in a dish and instead of relying on serving size, they should focus on portions. Portion size refers to the amount that you should be eating based on your fitness goals and body type. Learning more about portion sizes can allow you eat some of the foods you enjoy while still hitting your goals.
When you eat may be as important as what you eat. Though there have been a wide variety of studies surrounding meal times over the years, there is little consensus about what time is best to eat. What we do know is that restricting meals to certain times daily will set your body on a schedule and that sticking to this routine will help you maintain your weight over the long term. We recommend trying to eat at the same time each day and to avoid snacking. For our Balanced Habit Kickstart, we advised that our clients eat four meals every four hours. We were also very strict on the no snacking rule.
How does this come into play for the holidays? If you know you are going to indulge a bit before a work event, you may incorrectly believe that skipping lunch will save you calories. Instead, a skipped meal may slow your metabolism and cause you to be even more hungry when you are surrounded by tempting, high calorie foods. Stick to your meal schedule to avoid overeating later. If you have an evening event, consider eating your last meal of the day before meeting with friends, this way you can be social but control your food choices.
Many social gatherings involve catered or restaurant food. Over 92% of popular menu choices exceed the threshold of calories for a normal meal! It’s a chef’s job to make your food taste great and that may mean added fat, salt, and sugars along with larger than life servings. By cooking at food at home, you are in control and can limit how much butter, for example, that you use in a dish. If your friends want to go out to celebrate Thanksgiving, try instead recommending a potluck or hosting dinner at your apartment. This way all of the food served is likely home cooked (though we know someone will bring food from the hot bar at Whole Foods). If you prepare the food yourself, you will have much more control over the final calorie counts.
The Holidays Are Not Just About Food
If you know that you have a tough time resisting the temptation to overindulge, remove the food from the equation entirely! Catching up with high school friends? Plan a hike at a local park or schedule a HIIT class with TS! Social situations do not always have to be food related; try something active.
Think About What You Drink
Easiest way to avoid empty calories and poor decisions is to drink only water with your meals. We normally recommend about ½ of water per pound of body weight but if you are drinking alcohol, you should make sure to consume even more water.
Alcohol can make a meal go from relatively healthy to a gut buster pretty quickly. If you are going to have booze, consider avoiding craft beers (with over 200 calories a bottle) and sugary, mixed drinks. You can always bring your own beverages to a party, giving you control of what you consume. Hard seltzers and clear liquors are slightly healthier options
The holidays can be a great time to catch up with family, friends, and coworkers to celebrate. Try to take these tips into consideration to set yourself up for success. Since the end of the year is so busy, consider scheduling your fitness classes in the morning, before last minute plans can get in the way of exercise. Plus, committing to a 7am HIIT class may make it easier to say no to that shot of tequila.
Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or you need an accountability buddy to get you through the holidays. If you are interested in jumping starting your nutrition in 2019, we are offering another Balanced Habit Kickstart in January. Email [email protected] to learn more.