The holidays are approaching swiftly, which means it’s time to enjoy the seasonal comfort foods, signature dishes, and many treats that come with them (If you celebrated Halloween, you might have already gotten a good start with all that leftover candy!).
Thinking back to the last holiday season, how did you do with keeping on track with not only your fitness center workouts, but your healthy eating habits? It’s hard, isn’t it? It’s okay to enjoy treats now and then, but during the holidays when we indulge a little more than usual, it’s easy to let the occasional treat turn into a sugar or carb addiction.
If it’s okay to enjoy treats, yet it can lead to bad habits, how do you keep that from happening? Here are a few tips to help.
1. Watch for the signs.
Have you gone from being fine with enjoying dessert once a week to feeling the need for dessert after every meal? After one too many parties, are you finding it harder to resist the snack aisle at the grocery store? Do you find yourself hitting up the pantry looking for “a little something more” after you’ve eaten a full meal?
These are sure signs you’re falling into bad eating habits again —likely thanks to one too many holiday parties. The first step is recognizing these signs so you can correct them before things get out of hand.
2. Don’t stop tracking your calories.
Holiday parties only come around once a year. You’ve been so disciplined with your fitness center workouts and diet that it’s tempting to leave your fitness tracker behind and mindlessly indulge. But you’ll pay for it —either on the scale or in bad eating habits that don’t go away when the parties are over.
Treat holiday meals just like you would any other meal: track your calories, make sure you’re getting enough protein and veggies/fruit servings, and watch your portion sizes (just because you’re served that giant piece of pie doesn’t mean you’re obligated to eat all of it).
3. Don’t try to compensate by skipping meals.
In the attempt to stay within your daily calorie goal, it’s also tempting to cut elsewhere in anticipation of a giant feast. The problem with this approach is that you’ll probably end up eating way more calories than if you’d kept eating healthy, balanced meals. Even after you’ve over-indulge, don’t skip meals to compensate. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tighten up the belt a little, but going hungry will just set you up for more cravings and unhealthy food binges.
4. Get plenty of water and protein and satisfy that sweet tooth with fruit.
We often misinterpret thirst as hunger, so drinking plenty of water can help you avoid cravings and eat less at holiday parties (not to mention it helps with the post-meal bloat from all those salty sauces and snacks). Protein is another diet-saver, helping you feel full longer than carbohydrates. Finally, if you’re overwhelmed by a craving for something sweet, turn to fruit, instead. The natural sugars will satisfy your taste buds while the healthy dose of fiber will fill you up for fewer calories.
5. Ramp up your workouts.
Exercise should never be viewed as the cure-all or the punishment for over-indulging, but it does have the positive effect of burning extra calories so they don’t turn into extra pounds. If you feel like you’ve enjoyed the holidays a little too much over the next few months, get more serious about your fitness center visits. Not only will you “burn the bird,” you’ll also have more energy, build metabolism-boosting muscle, and feel better, all-around.