There is no reason to miss out on holiday meals. Your eating and exercise patterns leading up to a big celebration can allow you to enjoy special foods and drinks without ruining your fitness plan.
Commit to your morning workout.
The calories burned during exercise add up to offset the extra calories you eat. Sticking with your workouts helps control weight gain during the holiday season. Don’t skip workouts on the days you have planned celebrations. Also avoid putting off exercise until later in the day. It’s much too easy for last-minute invitations or errands to steal the time you’d planned to spend at the gym. A morning workout will guarantee you fit it in.
Lighten up for a few days.
Lightening up doesn’t mean skipping meals to prepare for overeating. It does mean making smart food choices that are satisfying and dense in nutrients. Choose more fruits, vegetables and lean protein to get the nutrients you need and to keep you feeling full. Limiting carbohydrates and fat will give you more wiggle room in your eating plan to enjoy favorite holiday foods.
Keep stress to a minimum.
You can’t avoid stress completely, but you can take steps to control how you react to stressful situations. You might be nervous to attend a party or feel overwhelmed with all you have to do. These feelings can lead to overeating. Stress also impacts sleep in a way that can lead to hormonal imbalances, hunger, and cravings. Identify what is stressing you out, and take steps to resolve it. Incorporate stress-relieving activities like meditation and regular exercise.
Don’t go to a party or attend a dinner buffet without giving some thought to your game plan. Set rules for yourself and stick to them. Enjoy one cocktail, choose dessert over an appetizer, or skip the dinner rolls and have a small scoop of mashed potatoes. By creating balance with your meal and making trade-offs for those things you want to enjoy, you can stay in control of your calorie intake and weight loss.
During the holidays, we are constantly offered unhealthy meals and high-calorie desserts. Healthy eating may seem impossible, but the truth is, you have more control than you think. On the days you have parties to attend, take special care to eat healthily before and after those events. Meals should be low-calorie and loaded with fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Limit snacking, and choose a healthy smoothie instead of a pastry for breakfast on the days you have social events. Taking control of the times you are not celebrating can help you avoid holiday weight gain.
Apply the one trip rule.
Make a second trip to the food table off limits. Carefully look over the selection, and take only those foods that are special to the occasion. By limiting yourself to one plate of food, you exercise portion control. Keeping portions in check will allow you to enjoy a few of your favorite foods without consuming too many calories.
Think in bites.
It’s natural to want a little bit of everything when you are faced with numerous options. In order to enjoy more without excess calories, think of each serving you take in bites. Take only a spoonful that requires two to three bites to finish. When you slow down your eating and mindfully consume your meal, you will find that you are satisfied with these few bites, and you will keep yourself from becoming uncomfortably full.
Fill up on fiber.
Fiber-rich foods keep you feeling full and reduce the urge to snack on leftover cookies and candies. Fill your plate with salads, roasted vegetables, and choose whole grains.
Keep your water bottle handy throughout the day, and make sipping a regular practice. Often when we let ourselves get thirsty, it can present itself as hunger and lead to mindless snacking. With so many extra treats around this time of year, this can put you at risk for blowing your calorie budget.
Reaching your fitness goals requires keeping an accurate account of what you eat each day. We make keeping a food diary easy here at MyFoodDiary, and there are steps you can take to ensure that your reports are a true reflection of your intake. In addition to tracking your foods, examining your thoughts and feelings will also help you see your progress and target areas that need improvement.
Don’t forget about beverages.
Sodas, coffees, smoothies, energy drinks, and juices can contain as many calories as a full meal. Unfortunately, these liquid calories rarely make you feel full. It’s easy to forget about beverages when you update your food diary. Record everything you drink from water to soda, including small sips throughout the day.
Bites count too.
Do you nibble from your child’s plate? Do you taste while you are cooking? These calories count too. Do your best to estimate the amount for every bite so that you have an accurate report of total calories for each day.
Note how you feel.
We eat for many reasons that don’t always involve true hunger. Your family may have a set meal time, or maybe you are stressed or bored. When you record your food, also make notes about how you felt during the time you ate the food. Were you starving and grabbed what you could find? Did you choose an unhealthy option due to your social setting? Emotions play an important role in healthy eating. Record how you feel to better understand how your emotions affect your eating habits.
Look for patterns.
Food diaries are especially beneficial because they help you identify patterns in your eating. These patterns may be healthy, like you always eat a breakfast that is balanced in carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat. Keep up those healthy habits. These patterns may also be unhealthy, like your late night snack always puts you over your calorie limit. Use these patterns as a way to identify what might be holding you back from reaching your goals, and then make a plan for how you will overcome these challenges.
Grabbing a smaller plate or bowl may seem like a small change, but it can make a big difference in how much food you serve yourself. Research shows that larger bowls can cause us to take as much as 30 percent more food! Smaller plates require less food to fill and make portions appear larger, which leads to eating fewer calories without feeling deprived.
Put foods away.
Storing foods on the countertop in plain view can trigger cravings. Just seeing a bag of chips can make you hungry, and it is difficult to resist when they are within easy reach. If you have these foods in the house, keep them in a closed cabinet out of view to reduce mindless snacking.
Use measuring tools as serving utensils.
Scoop and serve your foods using a measuring cup with a handle. Portions of beans, soups, pasta sauces, and stews can easily be controlled by using these tools. Use measuring spoons for scooping out nut butters or adding condiments such as salad dressing. This small change will reveal exactly how much food you are eating.
Set your fork down between bites, chew slowly, and keep your focus on the food you are enjoying. Eating less quickly allows you to eat more mindfully, which helps you feel more satisfied. As a result, it will be easier to recognize when you feel full.
Stay at the table.
Distracted eating leads to overeating. Even if you are eating a healthy meal, doing so in front of a television screen causes you to lose sight of your body’s cues for hunger and fullness. Improving your relationship with food requires that you not only eat healthier, but that you remove distractions so that you can truly enjoy your food.
Cravings are part of a normal healthy lifestyle. When and how you indulge is what controls whether these cravings have a negative influence on your health. A box of cookies will still be around after you have had one or two to satisfy your craving. It’s better to enjoy a treat and remove the temptation than to deprive yourself and binge later. Buy a single cookie or donut at the bakery and single-serving bags of chips to reduce the chance that you will overdo it.
Reduce convenience foods.
When the foods you eat require some work, it slows you down and keeps you focused. Cook more often, and buy snacks that need to be shelled or peeled such as nuts, seeds, and fruits. Yes, it takes more time, but the investment will be worth reaching your fitness goals.
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Drinking plenty of water and calorie-free beverages can help you feel full and eat less.
As seasons change, you may notice a change in your eating and exercise habits. While some of these changes are positive, others can have a negative impact on your choices and lead to unwanted weight gain.
Summer is a season of fresh, nutritious foods, but a few things may work against your healthy intentions. Backyard barbecues can tempt you with high-calorie burgers, hot dogs, chips, and ice cream. Local fairs and festivals offer deep fried foods and high-sugar desserts. It can be difficult to pass up these once-a-year treats.
Summer can also make it harder to stick to your workouts. Hot temperatures and humidity can leave you feeling lethargic and make it unsafe to exercise outside.
What to do: Be selective about the foods you eat. Choose only those that are true treats, and take the time to savor them. Make a plan for workouts at home or consider a temporary gym membership so you don’t abandon your workouts due to a hot day.
Autumn brings cooler temperatures that are ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. Unfortunately, it is also a busy time of year for families. As you adjust to the back-to-school season, you may feel overwhelmed with little time to be active. The extra stress can lead to emotional eating, little exercise, and poor nutrition.
What to do: Find healthy ways to control stress and make those activities a priority. Even 10 minutes of meditation or yoga each morning can set the tone for a healthier day. Get outside when you can. Being in nature is calm and relaxing, which also reduces stress.
When winter hits, the cravings for high-carbohydrate comfort foods come with it. With fewer fresh foods available, you may fall into a rut with food choices and be tempted by unhealthy comfort foods. As the weeks move into the holiday season, temptations for unhealthy food grows and stress can increase emotional eating. Additionally, shorter days and cold temperatures make squeezing in your workouts more challenging.
What to do: Don’t let the holiday season sneak up on you. Make a plan and apply it as early as October. Choose when you will stick to healthy eating and what is worth a splurge. Plan for a busy schedule and how you will adjust your workouts. Find ways to make your favorite comfort foods healthier by incorporating more vegetables and fewer heavy creams and sauces.
As you transition out of a long winter, spring weather can be a motivating force to eat healthier and to get moving, but one thing could get you off track. After three months of sticking to your new year’s resolutions it may be tempting to give up, especially if you aren’t seeing the changes you expected. Heading into spring feeling discouraged may prevent you from taking advantage of outdoor workouts and seasonal fresh foods, and cause you to return to old habits.
What to do: Reevaluate your resolutions. Check your progress, and if you aren’t where you want to be, determine if your goals are on track. Perhaps you are expecting too many changes too soon or you are forcing yourself to do an activity you don’t enjoy. If your goals are no longer working, set new ones. Change up your routine to keep both your eating and exercise interesting and exciting.