By: Melissa Sledge, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist
The holiday season is around the corner, and with it comes parties, festivities, and an abundance of foods tempting you to overindulge. So how do you continue to work toward your fitness goals while enjoying your friends and family? The answer is simple – plan ahead.
We plan in every aspect of our lives: from meetings and play dates to parties and vacations. Surviving the holiday season is no different – it requires a plan to navigate the fun and to stay on track toward your fitness goals.
If you’re anything like me, your social calendar fills up quickly, which means deciding in advance how you’ll spend your time. Factoring your social events into meal selection can be a great way to collect healthy choices, freeing you to enjoy foods that might not be a part of your regular routine. This balanced approach to eating helps promote sustainable lifestyle practices, while avoiding rigid diets that are hard to maintain over time. Here are a few strategies when planning your meals before your event:
Breakfast and Snacks: Aim for a combination of complex carbs, protein, and fat to fuel your morning. If you don’t eat breakfast, graze on snacks that offer the same nutrient mix.
- Breakfast tacos with black beans, spinach, eggs or egg whites, chicken sausage and salsa
- Roasted sweet potatoes, sliced banana and almond butter
- Oatmeal made with egg whites topped with nut butter
- Sliced apple with butter and ¼ cup of nuts
Lunch and Hydration:Lunch should contain more protein and complex carbs, such as beans, vegetables or sweet potatoes. Think: a large salad with 4-6 ounces of lean meat or plant-based protein. Focus your afternoon on increasing your water intake and aim for 64 ounces before 5 pm.
Now it’s for the moment you’ve been waiting for. Do you stick to only healthy options or enjoy the foods you love the most? I recommend a combination of both, using some of these techniques:
50/50: Divide your plate in half and eat a combination of healthy and indulgent foods.
Big plate/small plate: With two plates of differing sizes, use the larger plate for healthy food options that support your goals, while using the smaller plate to enjoy smaller quantities of the foods that are not a regular part of your diet.
Rounds: If you see several foods you enjoy, break your consumption into rounds. Start the first round with vegetables and protein, and in subsequent rounds go for fats and simple carbohydrates. The idea with this technique is to fill up on foods that support your goals first.
Holiday fun doesn’t have to derail the progress you’ve been working toward week after week. Focusing your pre-event meals on healthier foods that are in line with your typical meal planning schedule helps you enjoy seasonal favorites guilt free. Sustainable success doesn’t involve extreme restriction. Creating a lifestyle that is more harmonious with the fun life has to offer is truly the key to surviving the holiday season.
Make healthy choices,