The holiday season is filled with parties, rich meals, homemade treats from coworkers and neighbors- it all adds up quickly! So whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain your size during the holidays, or just want to feel better, our holiday diet tips can really help. Check out our favorite suggestions about nutrition, portion control, blood sugar balance, and self-indulgence!
A lot of times when we think we are hungry, we are really just thirsty. If you start feeling peckish, ask yourself when you last drank water. Aim for at least half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. During the holiday season, you usually eat saltier foods than normal, so try to drink extra water.
2. Be a food snob
If you don’t love it, don’t finish it! Do not feel obligated to finish all the food on your plate. Be discerning about what you put on your plate, especially at buffet and potluck meals. You can always take a tiny portion of something at first and go back for seconds if you want more. If you are dealing with food pushers (you know, the ones who always insist you eat more), politely tell them that you are too full, but could take a portion home for later. In the case of your aunt’s infamous chopped liver or fruit cake, you can always toss it once you get home.
3. Limit variety
Don’t put too many different things on your plate at once. The variety will make you want to eat more than if there were only 2 choices on your plate. Choose a couple things to try first before adding anything else to your plate. This will also encourage you to eat more slowly and really consider if you want more food.
4. Eat a quality breakfast
Don’t skip breakfast the day of a big dinner. If you try to “save up” calories for dinner, you’ll end up hungrily overeating junk. Eat a whole-food breakfast that will keep you full for hours. You could try:
- Mini muffin-tin frittatas with veggies and protein (like cut-up sausage)
- Egg scramble with canned or smoked salmon, greens, cheese, and dill or parsley
- Turkey bacon, egg, and/or hummus breakfast sandwich (or collard wrap for a low-carb, gluten-free version)
- Smoothie with protein powder, greens, berries, chia seeds, and flax oil (or whatever you like in your smoothies, as long as there’s lots of protein!)
- Greek yogurt with fruit (see our awesome breakfast crumble recipe below!)
- Seasonal overnight oats with protein powder (pumpkin is a great mix-in for a fall oatmeal)
- Breakfast hash with root veggies, greens, and a protein of your choosing (chicken, sausage, bacon, eggs, tempeh, tofu…)
- Huevos rancheros (or tofu rancheros for vegans)
- Homemade breakfast patties with leftover veggies (or quinoa patties for vegetarians/vegans)
- Baked sweet potato topped with nut butter (plus a little leftover protein on the side)
- Protein pancakes
5. Protein, fiber, and fat before sugar
Always eat the protein and vegetables on your plate before the starches. You will fill up on the more nutrient-dense foods and have less room for carbs. As tempting as it is to have leftover apple pie for breakfast, starting the day with sugar is a guaranteed way to experience a blood sugar crash before noon. No need to deprive yourself, but ensure that you get a combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fat before eating sugar so your blood sugar stays steady. After a solid serving of protein, you will probably be too full to even want the sugar anymore.
A great way to enjoy fall flavors and get the feeling of dessert for breakfast is to make a healthy, filling version of a dessert, like our quick breakfast crumble:
Quick Fall Crumble
Place diced apples in a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle with spices, and microwave for 1.5-2 minutes. If you do not use microwaves, heat the diced apple and spices with 1-2 tablespoons of water in a skillet or small pot, stirring and adding water as needed to prevent sticking; once cooked, place in a bowl.
Once apples are softened and warm, sprinkle granola and flax/chia seeds over the apple. Top with Greek yogurt. Add honey, stevia, or additional cinnamon/spices to taste.
6. Eat on smaller plates
When we eat off larger plates, we have a tendency to serve ourselves extra food. Many experts recommend using a smaller plate, around 10″ in diameter, to reduce portion sizes.
When you do eat carbohydrates, try to ensure that they don’t spike your blood sugar. Having blood sugar spikes and crashes will lead you to overeat later and leave you cranky– not good when you are spending lots of time with loved ones! One great product that is perfect for holidays is PGX. PGX is a highly concentrated form of soluble fiber that expands in your belly, keeping you full and slowing the delivery of carbs to your bloodstream. Starting to use PGX before the holidays will allow your body time to get used to the extra fiber and allow you to use it to balance out high-carb holiday meals.
8. Start movement-based holiday traditions
Try signing up for a race on Christmas morning or New Year’s Day. If you get family members involved, it can become a great holiday tradition that will help you balance out some of the indulgences. Other ideas could include a bike ride, hike, football or soccer game in the yard, or dancing at a holiday party. If you give or receive a Wii Fit, dance-based video game, or FitBit, break in the new toy with your family or friends. Any extra bit of movement you can work in during this season will help.
9. Watch the liquid calories
Eggnog, apple cider, wine, beer, cocktails… don’t forget that drinks have calories too! Seriously consider the number of drinks you have during the holidays and limit it as much as possible. If you absolutely must have your favorite drink, drink at least 8 ounces of water for every alcoholic beverage. Your waistline and liver will thank you.
10. Indulge in other ways
Food, booze, and parties are all synonymous with holiday indulgence, but they don’t need to be the only ways to treat yourself. Consciously think about what you really want to feel indulgent and satisfied. If that is food, enjoy it (just balance it out with our tips). However, you may be happier if you indulge with a massage, weekend getaway, luxurious bath, or a small holiday gift to yourself. Get tickets to a holiday performance, go walk around a seasonal light display, visit a museum, see a movie, go for a hike in a beautiful area, organize a spa day with friends, or take a nap. Brainstorm your own list of activities that nourish you without junk foods.