You've worked your butt off getting into shape this year, then along comes Christmas; all happy and jolly, and wrecks those marathon training sessions and your religious dieting all within the space of one week. Of course there's the office party and post-work extra nibbles and drinkies too; hopefully before too many Covid restrictions hamper them! So how can you compromise enjoying festivities without becoming a bore and losing your hard earnt trim figure?
Throughout the year our daily eating plan is at the helm of our fitness or weight loss goals, and now with holiday season upon us every decision you make matters to a certain degree, or does it?
No matter if you’re headed out to a happy hour or two with co-workers, to a dinner party with friends, or to a big family meal, it's important to know how to feel comfortable in making healthy decisions that don’t compromise your diet goals.
There are two important ways to look at Christmas when you’ve got diet, health or fitness goals to achieve. The first is how to make good decisions that helps you stay on top of your nutrition and the second is how to make trade-offs so that you still enjoy the festivities without hitting the January blues. I prefer trade-offs!
There are several things you can do to prepare yourself. If you’re going to a specific restaurant, you can look up their menu beforehand and give yourself an idea of the choices you’ll have to make. Going into the restaurant with a good idea of what you’ll order plus any changes you need to ask for will make the process a lot less stressful. A complete meal would be one with a lean protein, at least two vegetables and a healthy fat option. Once you’re at the restaurant, here are a few tips to make your meal a little lighter/healthier:
If it’s a party or dinner where you aren’t sure what will be served, do your best to make sure your nutrition during the day is the best it can be. Fill up on the good stuff early on so that the unknown at dinner doesn’t seem so scary. Remember to stay adequately hydrated throughout the day and try to drink a full glass of water before heading out. Eat a light snack before you leave home. Munching on a small apple, a handful of almonds or some carrot sticks will help you avoid the bread basket at the restaurant or the bowl of chips at your friend’s house, and it will also help you with portion sizes during the meal.
Making Trade-Offs so You Still Enjoy Your Meals.
Food choice matters and so do calories when you’ve got diet goals to achieve, but that occasional blow out isn’t going to make or break your progress. While it's important to do your best to make healthy choices while dining out, it is equally important to have a flexible attitude towards your meals.
If you’re constantly stressed about food choices or about eating out, chances are your quality of life is going to suffer because of it. Inflexibility leads to feelings of guilt or remorse when you, inevitably, make a less-than-healthy decision.
It can also increase the chances of binge eating or yo-yo dieting, not to mention you probably won’t be able to fully enjoy the happy hour, dinner party, family dinner, etc if all you can do is focus on the food you can or cannot have.
Here are a few trade-offs you can make during the day so that you can let yourself off the hook a bit while dining out:
Day In, Day out.
At the end of the day, the choices you make day in and day out every week of the year carry much more weight (excuse the pun:)), than the things you do once in a while - like Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and pudding with lashings of brandy cream; can't wait:).
Use these tips to make healthy food-related decisions at home, restaurant or party, but don’t forget to enjoy your choices too, as both of those things are important not only for your continued progress but also for your psychological health. Balance is essential. Those cold, dark January workout mornings will soon be back before you know it. Stay mindful to your break, choose foods wisely but don't beat yourself up.
Learning how to be flexible with food choices will help you make healthy eating a long-term commitment that you actually enjoy instead of a short-term “can’t wait until it’s over” diet.
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