It’s that time of year again, the holidays. Peace on earth and goodwill to our fellow man.
While the holidays are an exciting, joyous time, there’s one thing they are not good for: diet and nutrition.
For anyone that has been busting their hump this year trying to get in shape – working out like someone possessed, watching everything you eat, and supplementing to give your body that extra edge – the mere thought of the holiday season can be anxiety inducing.
It’s a constant barrage of parties, happy hours, and treats shoved in front of your face. Your will power seems like it’s challenged every minute of every day.
And you’ve been so good for so long. It’d be an absolute shame to throw it all away.
How do you avoid completely obliterating your diet this holiday season, and maintain that healthy glow you’ve worked for so long to achieve?
I’m here to help you out with some of my best tried and true strategies. Pick one, or pick them all; either way you’re going to have some success.
Get your rest
With all the festivities and cheer happening around us, it’s easy to push your own well-being to the wayside and cut back on sleep.
But will power is a limited resource, and it’s intimately related to how rested we are.
The less sleep you get, the less will power you have. It’s that simple.
That’s exactly what a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition told us last year. The researchers found that sleep deprived people consumed an average of 385 extra calories per day more compared to those that got adequate rest.
Furthermore, the sleep deprived were more likely to consume more fat and less protein.
So if you want to keep a cap on overindulging, don’t sacrifice your pillow time during the holidays.
If you’re going to a party and trying to stay disciplined, there’s one thing you absolutely must not do: show up hungry.
It can make it damn near impossible to not give in.
If you know you’re going to a party where there’s going to be a lot of unhealthy options, have a light meal, snack, or meal replacement shake before you get there.
Any of these options can help you stay in the driver seat when it comes to your cravings.
If you manage your hunger in advance, you can go into the party knowing you have the upper hand on your appetite; hunger won’t get the better of your judgement.
Schedule cleanse days
A study published in Nutrition Journal found that intermittent fasting, one or two days a week, can be just as effective for weight management as daily caloric restriction.
Scheduling a few cleanse days throughout the holidays can help manage the extra calories in your diet this time of year.
The holidays can be stressful, really stressful.
Persistent stress influences our behavior in many ways; many of which alter the way we eat.
It causes our body to release cortisol – a hormone known to increase the motivation to eat. Stress also affects our food preferences, seemingly pushing us towards the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. And, finally, stress is linked with less sleep, less exercise, and more alcohol consumption.
We can head stress off at the pass this holiday season with adaptogens.
Adaptogens are compounds that prevent the physical and chemical effects of stress in the body.
The 85/15 rule
Life is about having fun. We’re especially reminded of this during the holidays when we get to spend time with our friends and loved ones.
The 85/15 rule is all about allowing yourself little indulgences.
This is so you don’t become so overwhelmed with the unhealthy options constantly thrown in your face that you crack, go completely overboard, and just resort to telling yourself that you’ll get back on track in the new year.
85/15 means eating healthy 85% of the time and allowing yourself 15% for a little diet fun. It allows room for foods that may not be that good for you but you really enjoy.
In more understandable terms, if you eat six small meals a day during the holidays, one of those meals can include some indulgent foods.
Allowing these little indulgences satisfies that little monster in your head so he, or she, doesn’t take over your whole mind.
Don’t beat yourself up
As I said, the holidays are for fun, family, and friends. It’s not a time for self-loathing and discovering new ways to think of yourself as a failure.
A little indulgence every now and again doesn’t mean you suck and you’re a terrible person. It also doesn’t mean that your entire diet is shot because you had a cupcake.
The holidays are about love. Love for yourself and love for other people.
If you go a little overboard one day, that’s life. You’re human. Just get right back to the present and aim to stay on track toward good health and an optimal life from this point on and into tomorrow.
The holidays are a fun time; they shouldn’t be a time of year you dread.
And they don’t have to be if you arm yourself with some of the strategies I’ve mentioned here. These tips will give you the confidence you need to go into the holiday season knowing you’re not going to become part of the statistic of average holiday weight gain.
With some planning and a little will power, you can make it through the holidays unscathed.
Let me know some of your strategies in the comments.
If you’d like to know more, please contact me, I’d love to help you out.
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