‘Tis the Season for Nutrition
The holiday season is here, and we know how hard it can be to keep up with normal diet and exercise habits during this time. This blog is the first of our 2-part series on how to maintain your fitness during the holidays. In this post, we will cover how and what to eat leading up to and on the holidays. We’ll also share delicious holiday recipes that to allow you to enjoy the traditional foods of the season without losing sight of your nutrition goals. Get ready to dig in!
Nutrition Leading Up to the Holidays
Make a plan to outline how you will stick to your dietary goals over the coming weeks. Write realistic goals for yourself, like “eat ____ cups of vegetables per day for at least 5 days per week.” Meal prep ahead of time so that, when exhausted from the festivities, you have healthy options to easily turn to.
Dial in Nutrition
Focus on sticking to your healthy habits in the time leading up to the actual holiday(s). Save the less nutritional options for the special occasions rather than eating them regularly throughout the entire season.
Supplement your nutrition habits by consistently exercising hard during this period. Staying active, especially on the days we are eating more than usual, is incredibly important to keep up with our fitness and wellness. Tune back in for Part 2 of this blog series for tips about exercising over the holidays!
Nutrition on the Holiday(s)
Planning what you’re going to eat ahead of time ensures that you will be able to balance out indulgent foods with more nutritious ones. If you’re not hosting, ask about the menu in advance so you know what to expect. If you are concerned about not having solid options, eat beforehand or bring your own food.
Eat with Purpose
Challenge yourself to only eat foods that serve a purpose during this time. That being said, remember that the purpose of some foods is to provide nutrition, while others provide happiness. It is important to let yourself experience both! Prioritize eating only your favorites from the “happiness” category to enjoy the holidays without completely missing your nutrition goals.
No “Saving Calories for Later”
If you plan on having a big meal later in the day, do not skip or limit meals in preparation. This can lead to overeating when the meal finally arrives. Additionally, it decreases your blood sugar, which can cause confusion or irritability. Holiday festivities are crazy enough as it is- let’s try not to navigate them while hangry!
Hydrate All Day
Drink lots of water throughout the day of your celebration. This will help you feel full to prevent overeating, improve digestion, and counteract dehydration if drinking alcohol.
When it’s finally time to eat, serve yourself based on the portions you know align with your goals. Skip the mental gymnastics required to determine how you’re going to “stop yourself” from eating something someone else served you. Take control of your plate so you simply enjoy it instead!
Stick to Your Plan
Your plan is your key to eating the foods you want without setting yourself backwards. You might feel (well-intentioned) pressure from loved ones to “relax” or have “just one more drink.” In these moments, remember your goals and don’t apologize for them.
Skip the Scale
Resist the temptation to get on the scale the morning after the holiday. Remember that your weight will fluctuate depending on factors like when you last ate or went to the bathroom. Don’t let a few pounds that might be situational spoil your fun memories.
Alcohol Through the Holiday Season
Limit or Eliminate Alcohol
Alcohol is high in empty calories, meaning it provides little to no nutrition for the number of calories it contains. It also lowers your awareness and inhibitions, which may lead to overeating and a general disregard for your nutrition plan. We therefore recommend eliminating alcohol from your holiday menu or enjoying in moderation.
Healthier Alcohol Choices
- Clear Liquors (Vodka, Tequila, Gin) – Serve on the rocks or mixed with sparkling water, herbs, and/or fruit or vegetable slices for flavor!
- Champagne and Wine
- Light Beers
- Hard Seltzers
- Hard Kombuchas
Alcoholic Drinks to Avoid
- Cream-Based Drinks (Egg Nog, White Russians, Mudslides)
- Sugary Mixers (Sodas, Juices)
- Frozen Drinks
Healthy Holiday Recipes
Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower – This recipe adds cauliflower to mashed potatoes to cut carbs and sneak in hidden veggies. It also uses Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or buttermilk.
Smoky Vegan Collard Greens – This is an easy vegetable side dish that offers TON of nutrients and classic southern flavors.
Sweet Potato Kale Latkes – Although not the traditional way to prepare latkes, this recipe uses sweet potatoes and kale for extra vitamins. Pan fry, air fry, or bake instead of deep frying and serve with Greek yogurt sauce or applesauce.
Noche Buena Salad – This traditional Mexican salad offers a refreshingly light mix of fruits and vegetables to break up the heaviness of many other holiday dishes.
Pomegranate and Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark – Here is a simple 4-ingredient chocolate dessert for those who want something a little sweet without going overboard.
Protein Hot Chocolate – Because why not drink hot chocolate to get those protein gains?
Maintain Your Nutrition Through the Holidays
The holidays are meant to be a joyous time, and food plays a large part in that joy for many of us. Increase this cheer by making dietary choices that build upon the excellent habits you’ve made rather than leave you with regret. Don’t wait until the new year to start focusing on your nutrition. If you need guidance, consider signing up for our Nutrition Program at CrossFit LPF! We’re here to help whenever you’re ready to begin.