Ahhh…Yes. The inevitable stretch run of holidays that usually starts at Halloween (if you count that as a holiday) straight through to the new year.
Although I’ll argue that this is the best time of year, it can also be rife with anxiety and concern surrounding your health.
Candy at Halloween, Mom’s renown pumpkin pie, Aunt Becky’s Christmas cookies has my waistline absolutely furious. There certainly won’t be a lack of delicious treats vying for your attention.
And, honestly, I see nothing wrong with some indulging over the holidays. It’s only natural. If you’re anything like myself, however, you might want to maintain some sembelence of fitness without having to miss out on these holiday favorites.
I’ve been using this methodology for years–some more fanatical than others–with great success. Suffice it to say that I’ve made enough holiday mistakes to help you succeed where I didn’t.
You see what I do for you?
You’re most welcome. Now let’s dive into these strategies to make your next family gathering a roaring success.
Use A Smaller Plate
Here’s a little psychological hack for ya. Decrease your plate size to encourage smaller portions. In theory this works well because your more mindful of your eating. You’ll decide exactly what you want on your (small) plate instead of loading up on every last side dish at the table. Once you finish then you’ll have to make a conscious decision to get a second serving. This subtle barrier can make a world of difference.
Now if you don’t feel comfortable–as a guest–then limit yourself to one plate of food. Odds are there will be a boatload of leftovers. So eat yourself to about 80% full. Listen to your hunger cues and go back for more if necessary.
Leave The Table After Eating
This one is tricky. Considering some of my best holiday conversations have been at the dining table.
Alas, if I can get it done, so can you.
After eating, see about politely excusing yourself from the table. If you finish before the other guests then set your cutlery down and engage in some conversation. Once everybody has finished, encourage the group to change locations in order to 1) digest and 2) continue the conversation devoid of the additional food temptation.
Changing locations will help me deliver the next point.
When is the next time you’ll have a group of 10-15 people all together?
Do I hear…
Touch football, anyone?!…anyone?…Bueller?
Good times I know!
You can start your morning with a little community turkey trot or just spend some time outdoors with the family. Ultimately, it is more about the company than the actual activity itself. But, hey, extra activity is always welcome in the Levergood household.
Much of the holidays are spent sitting down while enjoying quality conversation and delicious food. Expending some extra energy with some activity will improve your mood and digestion when it comes time to eat.
One of my personal favorites is doing a family walk. Usually after dinner before we sit down for dessert and board games. Feel free to steal that or make something unique to your family. Then it becomes tradition!
Don’t Over Do It On The Appetizers
Before editing this I was going to suggest skipping out on the snacks altogether. Who was I kidding. There will always be room for some shrimp cocktail and those little butterfly crackers from pepperidge farm.
Just limit yourself to smaller portions. Show a little restraint one time. The last thing you want to do is fill up on appetizers before dinner is served.
Rookie mistake. Play the long game so that you have the appetite for the fun stuff. I mean, cheese and crackers are great and all but you can have that pretty much any time of the year.
Moreover, I often see people eat just for the sake of eating. That is to say that most of them aren’t actually hungry–they are simply grazing while maintaining conversation. Fast forward to you being stuffed to the gills before the turkey is even carved.
Try having a drink with you instead. Water or some close–low calorie–equivalent will do. This way you can supplement your incessant talking with a quick swig instead of reaching for the next bite.
Limit The Alcohol
Truth be told I’m not a big drinker. Nothing against people that do, I just found it to be counterintuitive to my goals and it made me a different person so I stopped.
See how I said “it made me a different person”?
Know your limits, ladies and gentlemen. You do not need to be getting hammered for your annual get togethers. Not only will you say something you might regret, but alcohol–for the most part–doesn’t offer many benefits when trying to increase or even maintain fitness.
Odds are–if you’re reading this–you care about your health and well-being. So maybe you’re a pretty tame drinker or you avoid it all together. Great. Set an appropriate limit for yourself that you’ll hold yourself accountable to. If things start to get out of hand revert back to your reasoning for setting that limit in the first place.
Fill Up On Protein
Protein is not only satiating, but it also has the highest thermic effect of feeding (TEF) out of any of the other macronutrients (i.e. carbs and fats). The (TEF) is the process that metabolizes nutrients in the body during digestion. Because protein has a higher TEF, it will require more energy (calories burned) to digest the protein sources that you eat.
This is one of the primary reasons that research supports high-protein diets for fat loss. Equipped with this new information, design your plate to reflect these portions.
A quality breakdown might look like this:
Protein and vegetables are the top priorities. Leave the carb decisions for last.