When the holidays roll around, time with friends, family and loved ones spike, as do great memories, lots of photos and even more food. But if you’re in the midst of a diet or watching what you eat, the time of year can seem like nothing more than a two-month period of temptation to swerve from your diet. But, it doesn’t always have to be that way. We compiled 10 ways fitness experts keep their eating in check. Read on:
Consider simple swaps
Every expert agrees that substituting traditional holiday foods for healthier options is not only necessary to keep your diet in check, but also super easy to do. For instance, for appetisers, always swap out the usual cheese and tasty dips for hummus. Cauliflower is a great tool to use. Try making cauliflower mash this year instead of mashed potatoes. The texture is identical, and you’ll be doing your waistline quite the favour.
Get in the kitchen
One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re not eating guilt-filled foods is offering to cook it your way. If you’re invited to a gathering, offer to bring an appetiser or dish, and make it a healthy one. Worst-case scenario, if there are no healthy options, you can snack on the one you brought!
Make your favourite recipes a little healthier by cooking with the highest-quality cold-pressed oils and organic produce whenever possible, and mix in superfoods like sprouted nuts and seeds. Using monk fruit or dates instead of sugar is also a smart swap.
Eat before you go
Don’t go in starved. You should eat every three to four hours leading up to your event (or dinner) in order to keep cravings at bay. Snacking on protein-filled options and healthy fats before you leave the house is your best bet to keep you full.
The bottom line: If you arrive on an empty stomach, you’re way more likely to give in to eating unhealthy choices.
Double-think your drink
Always have a glass of water or two before you have any other beverage – this will prevent you from over-drinking just because you’re thirsty – and to be mindful of when you’re drinking, not just what. If you’re at a dinner, don’t have a beverage until dinner is served. And when the time to choose your drink comes, be smart.
Avoid an all-or-nothing approach
A common barrier people encounter while working toward improving their diets is falling into an all-or-nothing mindset.
An all-or-nothing thought might sound something like this: “Well, I’ve already ruined my diet for the day by having that piece of cake at the office party earlier, so I might as well forget my plans to cook at home tonight and grab takeout instead.”
These types of thoughts usually look at situations in black and white, or as “good” and “bad.”
Instead, try to look at each individual food choice you make during a day as its own. One less-than-ideal choice doesn’t have to snowball into a full day’s worth of similar choices.
In fact, having high self-esteem and confidence in your ability to make healthy choices tends to be associated with better health outcomes, so don’t let one small stumble bring you down.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
While making smart choices is beneficial in all realms, remember that it’s also important to stay sane and enjoy your time with loved ones. Enjoy the foods you love in moderation, and remember that you are what you do the majority of the time.
Eat a diet rich in whole foods
There are many ways to follow a healthy diet, and no two nutritious diets look exactly the same. Still, most successful, long-term healthy diets have at least one thing in common: They’re rich in whole foods.
Whole foods are those that have been minimally processed, such as:
• whole grains
• nuts and seeds
• eggs and dairy
• fresh animal proteins
Shakes, supplements, and fad diets might seem useful on the surface, but time and time again, whole-foods diets have been linked to better health outcomes all around the world.
Whole foods are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that support a healthy gut and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes.
On the contrary, ultra-processed foods like chips, candy, and sodas are more likely to promote inflammation and encourage chronic diseases.