Holiday Survival Nutrition Guide

I love holiday food!  Big meals with lots of carbs oh and don’t forget about the desserts.  Every party and gathering of the season will have a limitless supply of baked goods to enjoy. 

Unfortunately, we can’t eat these foods all of the time and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.  Proper nutrition plays a major role in being able to perform our daily activities to the best of our abilities.  Continually eating foods that aren’t “good” for us will not only lead to unwanted weight gain but cause an increase in lethargy, emotional instability and motivation. 

The following pages will help you make better nutritional decisions over the next 2 months.  Food is a major part of the holiday season and is to be enjoyed.  However, we must practice restraint if we are going to stay fit. 

The 80-20 rule is great for this time of year.  None of us will eat perfectly during the holidays.  But if we are able to eat well at least 80% of the time, we should be able to maintain our current fitness level.  The remaining 20% should be used with discretion.  Use it to treat yourself to something that you may have only during Thanksgiving or Christmas or as a way to keep you motivated to be disciplined during the “tough” days. 

The 80-20 rule should not be applied on a daily basis but rather weekly or bi-weekly.  For example, it is more beneficial to eat well 4 days in a row with a treat on the 5th day (80/20) than it is to stick to the plan for 8 hours a day and splurge each night. 

Apply as many of the following tips as possible to your current eating habits.

  1.  Be Realistic – The holiday season is filled with many temptations and time restraints.  Setting goals is important but it is important not to set ourselves up for failure.  Determine a goal that is challenging but doable.  For example, maintaining my current weight or losing 2-5 lbs until Christmas is a good goal for me.  Losing 20lbs by January 1st is not.  Do not limit your goals to weight loss.  Performance goals are great this time of year.  I will exercise 24 times by the end of the year or I will do 2 more pull ups by Christmas are excellent examples of challenging but doable.
  2. Plan Ahead – Failing to plan is planning to fail.  This is not the time of year to fly by the seat of your pants.  Making grocery lists, planning what you will take to the holiday party, packing healthy snacks for a long day of shopping will go a long way in maintaining fitness during the holidays.
  3.  Avoid Processed Sugars – Highly processed sugars are in abundance all year long but especially during the holidays.  Because of the possibility of increased caloric intake, it’s important to avoid these sugars as much as possible on a daily basis.  If you’d like to have a dessert or baked good, feel free.  Just remember the 80/20 rule when eating this way.
  4. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies – As always fruits and vegetables should be the staple of a solid nutritional plan.  The vitamins and nutrients are unmatched and the fiber content will help you feel full.  The natural sweetness of fruit will help eliminate the cravings for all of the cookies and cakes you’ll be seeing.
  5. Eat the Christmas Nuts – Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds are great snacks.  Don’t believe the hype that they are “too fatty.”  The fats in these types of foods are healthy and they help with reducing hunger pains.  Natural peanut butter and other nut butters are great as well.
  6. Stick to Lean Meats and Eggs – Getting quality protein is important.  Lean meats and eggs provide the best source of protein to help with a variety of functions not the least of which is helping you feel fuller longer.  Because protein takes longer to digest, it stays in the digestive system longer, limiting hunger.  This is important when we are staring at the homemade pies that Aunt Sally made.  If you are a vegetarian, get your proteins from beans, nuts and other products.
  7. Eat a Healthy Breakfast – A solid breakfast gets the day started properly.  Skipping it or eating a sugary cereal is a recipe for a bad day.  You’ll become tired, unmotivated and overstressed in no time if you continually live this way.  Start your day with eggs, oatmeal, fruit, vegetables and other healthy options.
  8. Drink Water – Water helps with energy levels, digestion and hunger.  It also has no calories.  If you are eating increased calories, the last thing you want to do is add in high calorie drinks like sodas, punches and alcohol.  Aim for 8-10 glasses of water per day
  9. Limit the Alcohol – Although alcohol is prevalent during the holiday season, it’s important to limit your intake.  Not only is it high in calories, it’s a depressant.  Mental and physical performance will be decreased which will increase stress levels.

What do you say? Can you try to incorporate at least three of these?

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