The holiday season is a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family partaking in beloved traditions and parties, many of which are centered around food, alcohol, and family recipes. Delicious holiday foods are usually multi-ingredient treats that are extremely rich and calorie dense. Staples like cookies, fruitcakes, cocktails, gravies, stews, creamy potatoes, and mac and cheese are typically packed with carbs and fats (which is why they taste so dang good). We often get into trouble by eating a little too much and missing workouts (or movement in general due to colder outdoor temperatures) between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Setting weight loss goals during this time of year can be psychologically challenging, especially with the number of social commitments and tempting treats and drinks, which can make even the jolliest person grumpy during the holiday season.
Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your holiday parties while still reaching your health and fitness goals:
- To avoid overeating at a party, eat a protein-focused meal or snack before you leave home. Protein will keep you feeling full for longer and you’ll be less tempted to attack the dessert table when you have a full stomach.
- Drink more water throughout the day. Feeling thirsty can sometimes be mistaken for hunger, so staying well hydrated can help with cravings when there is ample food to be had. Pro tip: If you do decide to enjoy a few cocktails, alternate your drink of choice and water. You’ll cut down on the total amount you drink and reduce your risk of feeling sluggish the following day.
- Stick to the single ingredient foods or those with fewer ingredients. Veggie and fruit trays and meats and cheeses are all great choices since they tend to have fewer calories than casseroles, baked goods, or other mixed-up foods. You can also sneak in more protein with a charcuterie board when compared to cookies and cocktails.
- Sneak in 10-minute walks throughout the day, after meals if possible. Moving the body after a big meal will help with digestion and allow you to stay active even when you can’t fit a whole workout into your schedule.
- Instead of going for the whole slice of pie, start with a few bites and focus on enjoying each one. You’ll take longer to eat the sweets and you’ll be less likely to overeat.
At the end of the day, the holidays are about spending time with your favorite people and enjoying some of your favorite foods along the way. Since you will be eating more calories than normal, it’s best to make sure the workouts you are able to get in are more focused on building muscle rather than losing weight. More calories mean your muscles will have more fuel to repair and replenish the damage from workouts, so focusing on muscle building activities like strength training will put those extra calories to use and prevent you from stressing out about needing to work off the foods you’ve enjoyed. Pair strength training with walks throughout the day (as mentioned above), and you’ve got a winning recipe for holiday gains!