Have your cake (or cocktail) and eat it, too: avoid holiday weight gain and enjoy your favorite treats
The Holidays aren’t over yet. When we think of holidays, we have to include the sugary, cheesy, carb-y treats that are part of the fun and memories. But how do we balance enjoyment of these treats with maintaining a healthy weight and giving our bodies proper nutrition? Here are my simple tips to avoid holiday weight gain and enjoy treats– without guilt!
For more on weight loss, check out my post on 9 Surprising Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight.
9 tips to avoid holiday weight gain and enjoy treats without guilt!
- Prepare to be tempted
It’s no surprise that we are going to feel tempted to indulge during the holidays. So, why don’t we prep for it? Oftentimes the guilt comes from overindulging without preparation, or deciding to (i.e. I just ate 7 cookies at a cookie exchange–how did that happen?!?). But treats shouldn’t be cause for guilt. Food is something to be celebrated and enjoy, especially around the holidays.
So, be prepared for the temptation an sneaky feelings of guilt that can ruin your enjoyment, and tell yourself that it’s okay and even healthy to treat yourself! You are in control; the food doesn’t control you. Therefore, you can treat yourself without guilt and while staying in control of what you want your nutrition to look like over the holiday season.
- Plan for treats: when will you indulge? What will you indulge in?
Coming up with a plan for indulging might not be in the holiday spirit of fun or carefree, but it can save you from overindulging to the point of guilt, plus hep you avoid holiday weight gain.
I like to plan my holiday indulgences around special events–holiday parties, cookie exchanges, date nights, and holidays themselves. Once you know about these events, you can plan for treats. I like to think about what I will indulge in, and how much I am comfortable treating myself. You don’t have to get super specific–I don’t even like to count calories–but in general, I like to enjoy food without pushing the boundaries of feeling overly full or sick.
And if you do overindulge, so what?!? There’s always tomorrow to reset your nutrition, and one night of overindulging won’t pack on the pounds. However, several nights will. So, planning for holiday treats will not only prevent this, but it will give you a chance to enjoy all your favorite holiday foods in a healthier way, mentally and physically. And you won’t feel deprived or guilty, because you planned for it.
- Meal prep/Eat regular meals
Another reason we feel the temptation to overindulge–we show up to events starving! Of course you will have no self-control around a cheese board if you haven’t eaten since breakfast. Make sure to keep healthy foods in stock at home, and to eat regular meals to prevent getting overly hungry, especially before holiday events.
I like to have meals prepped in my fridge and freezer that I can quickly throw together during busy times. I also make sure I eat enough before holiday events so that I am not overly hungry. While some events consist of a full meal, oftentimes holiday parties consist of hors d’oeuvres, desserts and cocktails–mostly carbs and sugar–which will not fill you up. So, if you know you won’t be getting a full meal, make sure to eat before heading out.
Personally, I like to eat a meal of veggies and lean protein before such events, since I know that those will be in short supply amidst all the cookies, cheeses, and breads. Pus, a meal of veggies and lean protein will satisfy your body’s nutrient needs and help you maintain a healthy lean body mass, even on days you indulge.
Check out my article on Meal Prep Recipes for more ideas.
- Have a snack stash
I also like to carry snacks in my purse and car for on-the-go hangry emergencies that are inevitable throughout the holidays. I like these almonds, dried fruit, protein bars, crackers, and protein drinks. This way, I will never get overly hungry and will be less likely to overeat on whatever treats are readily available.
- Bring a healthy dish
This is one of my best tips for ensuring that you have healthy options at holiday events. I always offer to bring a healthy–or healthier–dish to holiday events, that way I have something I know will give me the nutrition my body needs and prevent me from overindulging in all the less healthy options. I often offer to bring a veggie side dish or salad, or a healthy starch or protein. Also, I usually offer to bring a dessert I like, so I can get my sweet tooth fix on exactly what I want!
Check out my post on How to Start Eating Healthy and Stick to It.
- Make healthy swaps
Another way to avoid holiday weight gain is to modify your favorite holiday dishes to be a little healthier. I like to do this with everything, sometimes to my family’s dismay! But, there are easy swaps you can make, like using organic, on-processed ingredients, fresh local ingredients instead of pre-made or canned items, and dairy-free alternatives that no one will really notice. I make a killer sweet potato casserole that is vegan and no one would ever know. Check out my Instagram and Pinterest boards for more healthy holiday recipes!
- Get moving
Make an effort to prioritize exercise and being active overall. This will help you manage stress, sleep better, and avoid holiday weight gain. I recommend scheduling exercise in 3-5 times per week and find things you enjoy doing!
It’s easy to slack this time of year due to busyness, shorter days, and treats at every corner. But, seasonal changes can be a great time to try new workouts! My husband and I always run the Turkey Trot 5k each year. Gyms also offer holiday passes and promos this time of year, because it is usually a slow season for their business. So, take advantage and try out some free classes! And, since this season is all about togetherness, invite friends and/or family to join you for extra accountability!
For more fitness tips, see my post on How to Create an Exercise Plan that Works.
- Self care
Holidays often go hand-in-hand with stress. Combined with a busy schedule, lack of sleep and poor nutrition, you can bet that weight gain will also happen. But, this doesn’t have to be the case! Self care should be a priority, especially during hectic times. And, things like sleep, proper nutrition and stress management are basic needs that need to be met in order for your long term physical and mental wellbeing. Give yourself permission to put yourself first in these areas.
Therefore, allow for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, say no to things and people that drain you and stress you out (although this doesn’t really apply to laundry or family members, haha) and make a plan for nutrition and fitness. Saying yes to these things will keep you healthy, sane, and avoid not only holiday weight gain, but physical and mental depletion.
- Eat the cookie (or piece of pie, fun cocktail, etc) and move on!
We already talked about not feeling guilty–so don’t. do. it!!! You may wreck your diet for the night, but again, you won’t do any harm in the long run. so, don’t beat yourself up! Enjoy and appreciate your food and the fun memories that come with it. You can avoid holiday weight gain and enjoy treats without guilt!
Check out my post on How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Food.