Are you stressing the holidays and nervous about coming off your plan? Worried about possible long term setbacks by indulging in the holiday tradition of stuffing yourself until you can't move anymore? Well first and MOST important, don't stress!!! The stress of worrying in itself can be MORE detrimental to your health than the food itself! Below I will cover some easy tricks that can help you get through the holidays with a breeze!
1. Start your day RIGHT
Wake up and start your day with a protein loaded breakfast and some healthy fats! Most people skip breakfast and lunch in "prep" for eating a big dinner. That can actually cause your body to hold onto the dinner foods and increase fat storage. Eat well balanced, light meals in the beginning of the day.
2. Avoid snacking
Even though there will be food EVERYWHERE, try your best to keep within a 3-4 hour eating window. If you know there will be a bunch of great appetizers, maybe make those your "lunch". Or maybe just have a few appetizers right before you eat dinner instead of snacking constantly throughout a 8 hour party. If you do appetizers, try to aim for veggies and nuts instead meats and carbs.
3. Eat your plate in ORDER
This can help reduce your glucose spike by up to 75%! When you sit down with your plate for dinner, eat your veggies first. Proteins and fats come second, then carbs and sugars are last to be consumed!
4. Stay hydrated, but not with meals
Drinking enough water will help to keep the body clean and energized. Did you know being dehydrated usually leads to overeating? Aim for 80oz of water minimum, with added lemon, sea salt and coconut water for electrolytes. But whatever you do, DON'T drink a ton of water right before, during or after your meal. This will decrease stomach acid and make your food much harder to digest. Aim to avoid large quantities of water 30 minutes before and up to 60 minutes after your meal. Small sips with your meals is fine!
5. Stay ACTIVE
Don't stuff yourself and then sit down. Get up and move! Going for a nice easy walk around the block for about 10 minutes or so after eating can help reduce the glucose spike, assist with digestion, and help you avoid the "puppy tummy" feeling after a big meal!
6. Contribute to the feast
Many of you will have food sensitivities, histamine intolerances, and other issues that make enjoying the "traditional" feasts a bit challenging. This is when you can make some of your own food and bring it with you! I always make a ton of veggies, gluten free stuffing, and choose an organic free-range turkey!
7. Use a small plate and be PICKY!
The small plate trick helps you to fill up your plate, but eat MUCH less than you would if you filled up a larger one. Same thing goes with a small fork, smaller bites help with digestion! Don't feel like you need to eat everything offered (ex: cranberry sauce). Choose what foods you're comfortable with and don't feel the need to explain to anyone! For example, say something like, "Thanks for offering! That looks delicious. I am really full right now, but I'd love to take some for the road if that's okay!"
8. Use digestive enzymes or bitters
This is a LIFESAVER for me during the holidays. I use Digestive Enzymes about 10 minutes before eating the meal. Bitters on the tongue right before meals can also help produce bile acids so that you digest your foods (and fats) much better!
9. Consider making "mocktails"
Avoid sodas, beer, and sweet cocktails if you can. Alcohol and sugary drinks can affect your blood sugar levels for up to 12 hours afterwards! "Mocktails" are my favorite way to still feel like I'm indulging and allow me to enjoy really tasty drinks without the side effects! If you choose to indulge, stick to clear spirits like vodka or tequila, skip the fruity mixers for seltzer, and add some citrus or mint for a bit of a flavor boost. This will keep the calories and sugar to a minimum. Green tea before and after alcohol can help minimize the inflammatory effects too!
10. Slow down and ENJOY THE MOMENT
Eat SLOWLY, it takes your brain up to 15 minutes to realize that you're full! My go-to is to STOP eating when I'm 80% full! It can be easy to get swept up in the stress of staying healthy during the holiday season. Stress can ruin your health too, and a little celebration can be good for you! So, remember to relax and enjoy the holidays. A little planning and some good habits surrounding food prioritization and physical activity can go a long way!