Nutritional Tips For A Healthier Holiday Season

Nutritional Tips For A Healthier Holiday Season

Five healthy nutrition tips to prevent the diet wheels from coming off this holiday season.

The holiday season is a time for family, a time for joy, and for many, a time for indulgence. But if the thought of treats, parties, alcohol, and other delicious (read fattening) Thanksgiving and holiday temptations has got you worried, then think of this article as your prevention plan! By following some of the tips and suggestions below you can enjoy all the delights the holiday season has to offer, without completely dropping your diet plan and training routine. So let’s get right to it, shall we?

1. Set Goals & Limits

Before you devour that first Santa-shaped shortbread cookie, make a daily game plan for yourself (as it will inevitably be difficult to follow your regularly scheduled nutrition plan). In the same way that you adjust your training routine to account for your gym’s holiday hours, you should also adjust your meals & snacks to account for your events. This includes eating as well as you can, whenever you can. If you know you’ll be going to a holiday party in the evening, eat clean and go easier on the calories throughout the day. Now I’m not recommending you starve yourself, but try to stick with fresh fruits, veggies, and lean meats during the day. I’ll be the first to admit that fad dieting and showing up to an event hungry will only set you up for a major binge later that evening, but the better you eat during the day, the more leeway you’ll have that night.

2. Make Smarter Choices

If Aunt Patty is the best cook in the family and always has a full spread of homemade baked goods, I know there’s no way you’ll just sit there and nibble on celery all night long. But instead of waging an all out assault on the fruitcake and holiday cookies, fill your plate with as many fruits and veggies as possible first (but be careful of terrible condiments). Eat slowly, keep your serving sizes small, and avoid the stuff that you don’t absolutely want so that you still have room for the deserts that are actually worth eating. That said, the best piece of advice I can give you is be careful of the “food pushers” (parents, grandparents, etc) that always try to get you to eat more than you want. Although they may be extremely nice people, they may be the number one culprits for Diet Disasters over the holiday season.

3. Hydration

If it’s not already a habit, keep a bottle of water with you at all times. Your brain often interprets thirst as hunger so make sure you keep up with fluid intake. Simply put, the more water you drink, the less hungry you’ll feel. Additionally, drinking water will make it easy to lay off some of the other holiday drinks that will absolutely destroy your diet, and get you on your way to actually looking like Santa or Misses Claus. Eggnog, hot chocolate, and specialty coffees are delicious, but they’re also loaded with fat and calories. Same holds true for a bunch of seasonal alcoholic beverages like Bailey’s and Kahlua. The better you are at limiting these drinks, the less work you’ll have to do when it’s time to get started on that New Year’s resolution.

4. All or Nothing

Ok, so you messed up and ate twice the amount you had planned. You had one (or 12) too many cocktails, and half of the dessert tray. Don’t throw in the towel and give up! Every meal and every snack is another opportunity to get back on track. Beating yourself up and continuing to over indulgence will only put you further behind your goals. So if you fell off the wagon, dust yourself off, remember the 90/10 rule, drink some water, and make the choice to eat better at the next meal.

5. Treat Yourself

It’s still the holiday season so don’t feel like you have to completely avoid every special treat. Be sensible about it and don’t go overboard on the serving sizes. You’ll eventually breakdown if you deprive yourself of every single thing, so if you crave it, have some and keep it moving. A sampling will help satisfy your craving and prevent you from thinking about it.

Listen, I know that the list above may be a little intimidating but the point is that the holidays don’t have to result in unwanted weight gain if you exhibit a bit self-discipline. Keep your goals in mind, remember how hard you’ve worked up to this point, and make eating sensibly the one resolution you stick to all year long so that you can continue to lose weight and burn fat.

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About the Author

Veronica Dyer, CSCS is the Director of Strength & Conditioning for Olympic Sports at Syracuse University and is responsible for working with volleyball, women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, and softball teams. Before that, Dyer served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Northwest Missouri State University and was a graduate assistant in the Syracuse strength and conditioning department for three years as well. As an undergrad, Dyer was a member of the Syracuse track and field team from 1995-2000 and was honored with the Lucille Verhulst Sportswoman of the Year award in 2000. After school she placed third in the 100-meter hurdles at the Canadian Olympic Trials in 2000 and was also a member of the Canadian National Team at the 2001 World University Games in Beijing, China.