As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to expect the annual indulgences associated with festive family gatherings and celebrations — and figure out a smart plan.
Many of these celebration include several drinks, rich meals, and decadent desserts — all of which can be high in calories.
This is a time when self-care can easily slip down on the priority list.
Here are my practical holiday hacks that will keep you in check during the season while feeling your best.
1.) Don’t skip meals. Eat three balanced meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Meals should consist of a protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.
Eating three meals a day (approximately every four hours) keeps your blood sugar levels steady and your energy up.
2.) Stay active. Movement, whether it’s going for a power walk, taking your favorite dance, spin, or yoga class, or even cleaning up around the house keeps your blood flowing and your muscles working.
Staying active also helps burn extra calories you may be consuming while boosting your metabolism.
It is also a built-in mood lifter and helps to relieve unwanted anxiety that tends to be higher during the holiday season.
3.) Map out your schedule — and make sure you don’t enter a party on an empty stomach.
A small snack or mini meal before an event can help you consume less and be more mindful of your food choices.
For example, an apple with a little peanut butter, a small cup of lentil soup, or even a handful of nuts with some grapes is a great snack choice.
4.) Keep trigger foods out of sight. Everyone knows which foods get them in to a non-stop binge.
Some go for salty/crunchy chips or crackers, others tend to choose creamy nut butters or cheese, and then there are those who love sweets like cookies or granola.
You are better off keeping them away to avoid temptation.
When holiday stress kicks in, the first thing we usually indulge in is mindless eating. Keeping those trigger snacks away helps to reduce overconsumption.
5.) Stock up on healthy snacks that are portion-controlled. Choose ones that contain a healthy fat, protein, and fiber, which is a winning combination.
I like having Setton Farms’ Pistachio Chewy Bites which come in three different flavors: cranberry, blueberry-infused cranberries with coconut, and plum. They come wrapped in a perfect bite-size portion and are easy to toss in your bag. They are also vegan and Certified Gluten Free.
Another good option is a 100-calorie pack of guacamole or hummus with fresh veggies.
Eating a healthy snack between meals can prevent consuming too many calories at once.
6.) Before you get to your party, decide what your choice of indulgence will be.
Having one or two favorite holiday treats will keep you satisfied and not feeling deprived.
Limit your treat to half a cup — or use the palm of your hand as a reference for serving size.
Alcoholic beverages can add up too many unwanted calories and may also lower your tolerance for self-control. Adding ice or seltzer water to your drink will help keep you hydrated and also make your drink last longer, leading to less calories consumed.
Remember, alcohol is not only filled with empty calories but also lowers your metabolism. Stick to one or two drinks — and lots of water in between.
7.) Build a perfect plate. Aim to fill half your plate with colorful vegetables, a quarter of it with lean protein, and another quarter with starches.
Vegetables can be lower in calories and high in fiber, which keeps you full.
Watch out for green beans covered in butter or other creamy sauces, which can sabotage your good effort.
Using smaller plates can also help keep portions in check.
Sara Siskind, a certified nutritional health counselor, is the founder of Hands on Healthy, cooking classes for adults, families and teens based in New York. She’s dedicated her career to educating clients on how food and lifestyle choices affect health
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