We all love the holidays but, for many of us, they mean an extra dollop of mashed potatoes here, a few cookies there, and a cocktail (or three!) at every December social function. It doesn’t take long for all of these “extras” — consumed in the holiday spirit, of course! — to begin undermining our most important health goals.
The good news is … it doesn’t have to be this way! You really can spread good cheer and slip comfortably back into your clothes come January by following these 3 simple tips.
1. Plan Ahead
As cliche as this may be, failing to plan really is planning to fail. Although it’s a busy time of year, your ongoing commitment to planning, purchasing, and preparing healthy meals and snacks can make all the difference in the world. With all of the inevitable eating out that goes with the season, it becomes even more imperative that the meals you do prepare for yourself are of the highest quality — veggies, protein, and healthy fat.
When is this going to happen?
In as little as an hour, you really can prepare a lot of food:
- Veggies – make a raw tray, some soups, sides (like creamy carrot and fennel coleslaw with apple or Brussels sprout slaw), or favourite “staples” (mine are cauliflower rice and spaghetti squash)
- Protein – hard-boil some eggs or cook up some beef, salmon, or chicken to round out your meals (sometimes I cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker, which is massive bang for my time buck!)
- Healthy fat – prep some guacamole, dressings, or dips ahead in advance
2. Work Your Support Networks
I know of a workplace that proudly hosts Fat December (typical holiday goodies brought in each working day) and Skinny January (veggie and fruit trays to get back on track).
Despite the enthusiasm people seem to have for holiday eating, you’d be surprised how many people would prefer to not dig this December hole in the first place. They may just be waiting for you to put the suggestion out there.
Your work colleagues may be delighted by the idea of a healthy eating office challenge, a Paleo cookie exchange, or even a gag gift exchange that has nothing to do with food. It only takes one determined person with a vision to steer the holiday ship in a healthier direction. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
3. Get Back on Track
Let’s face it, we’re probably all going to indulge a little more than usual this month. And that’s okay! My best advice is to at least enjoy it, and then get right back on track quickly. Research shows this is a key distinction between successful eaters and those who find themselves saying things like:
- I’m going to regret this later.
- Better do an extra long workout tonight.
- I’ll undo this in January.
Try to learn something from the experience whenever possible. Some people can get away with extra indulgences, and others find that once they start they can’t seem to stop (watch my TV episode on moderators vs. avoiders). Where do you fall along this continuum? (Be honest!) It can take some trial and error to find the right balance, but it’s definitely worth exploring.
Hopefully these tips make it easier for you to feel well this December and beyond.
If you have other strategies that work for you, I’d love if you shared them in the comments section below.
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