It seems that many of our wintertime holiday celebrations center around food, and it is extremely unfortunate for the waistline that they are literally within 5-6 weeks of each other. In America, “Holiday Celebration” has become synonymous with “Endless Feast” and “Eat Until You Hurt”—which was not the true intention of the holidays. But, I digress…for now. It seems nearly impossible to make it through unscathed, unless you are one of the lucky few who happens to have a ridiculous metabolism and can (for now) eat anything you want and have your waistline unaffected. I am not writing to you—though you may benefit with some healthy eating as well, and really rock that lean physique—I am writing to those of us whose bodies respond all-too-readily to whatever we eat.
The good news about the holiday season is that to celebrate appropriately, a binge-fest is NOT necessary. You can be thankful, giving, and joyous at the start of the new year without indulging in cheesecake, wine, mounds of mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, and enough biscuits to fill an Easter basket. There are a few things you can do (including exercising self-control) to avoid the status-quo gain of major wintertime poundage.
1) I must precede this by saying that while exercise is SUPER important for physical well-being, keeping a strong body, and simply feeling good, you cannot out-train a bad diet. Your nutrition will either expand or decrease your waistline girth. The choice is yours.
2) Prioritize fibrous vegetables and protein! This will help to keep insulin levels low, fill you up, and not be as likely to result in excess belly fat (and having to invest in a new pair of pants or two). ROCK THE VEGGIE TRAY. Dip in salsa if it’s available. 🙂
3) Other common party options that are great choices as “priorities”:
- Chicken wings—not the best, but they are protein and fat. If you’ve stayed away from them for a while, it may be wise to continue staying away. I’ve had a stomachache or two as a result of this being the best food option.
- The token salad that is usually present so it cannot be said there was no “healthy” option (always present in my family, alongside the lasagna and garlic bread)
- Protein—there is some form of meat at almost any holiday meal, so eat up! Throw it onto your salad to dress it up a bit! Here are a few common options:
i. Turkey Breast
iii. Venison (this is LEAN and tastes absolutely delicious—would be my go-to on any occasion if available!)
iv. Fish—I don’t know too many holiday fish-eaters, but I’m sure they’re out there. If it’s what you want and you’re hosting, you prepare it.
v. In the off-chance your gathering is a little more laid back and cooking out, you can do a bun-less hamburger—you could even throw the burger between two large lettuce leaves, put your toppings on (stay away from the mayo if you can), and enjoy! This is a GREAT option for summer parties, especially, as hamburgers are a dime-a-dozen.
4) If able, stay away from starchy carbohydrates unless you’ve done a workout that day. Your starchy carbohydrates should be at your breakfast and post-workout meal.
5) Enjoy a bit of dessert, but you don’t need a lot to enjoy it. Take your time to enjoy your spoonful or forkful one bite at a time.
6) Eat clean—especially while you aren’t at these celebrations. This will give you more wiggle room on those days you’re surrounded by food that could set your progress back. “Food” for thought: is all the discipline you’ve applied and progress you’ve made really worth that second piece of pie or third scoop of ice cream?
7) Did I mention visiting the Vegetable Tray? Not only will these options be nutritious, they will also keep you full!
The best advice I can give you this holiday season is to be proactive. Your nutrition is your responsibility–no one else’s. (Unless you are a child, and in that instance, your nutrition is your parent’s responsibility. If you are a parent looking for help in keeping your whole family’s nutrition on track, especially that of your children, http://www.healthygrowingkids.com is a great resource!)
Tight nutrition=tight waistline. 🙂 Defy the status-quo this winter!
Preview of Part 2: It’s only November 11th, and I have already experienced this!! Be proactive for YOUR HEALTH! Your health is your responsibility! What to do in the face of holiday parties (or any party) that you have a strong feeling will not have much in the way of foods that lend themselves to being physique-friendly (or digestion-friendly, for that matter).