December is finally upon us – it’s time to eat, drink, and be merry!
As we enter the season of holiday feasts, opportunities to socialize with friends and family over attractive meals (and bottles) will arise. With this season comes food – lots and lots of delicious food. As we promote balance, flexibility, and the enjoyment of all types of food, we want you to enjoy your holiday engagements without going overboard. After all, life is meant to be fully lived and food is meant to be thoroughly enjoyed.
To help you navigate this joyous season, we’ve compiled a list of some of our top recommendations aimed to make hitting your macros part of a flexible, flavourful, and enjoyable lifestyle to round off the year. Try implementing these tips this holiday to keep your health and vitality thriving into the New Year.
Tip 1- Map-out Your Engagements
As we roll into December, we recommend spending some time attempting to forecast your upcoming holiday engagements. This may involve reflecting on last years festivities, and looking at the new connection you have made since that time that may result in social gatherings. By roughly planning out your holiday activities, you will get a better idea of what the end of this year has in store. Doing a little pre-planning will help you enjoy social events and eating out to the fullest, without worrying about sabotaging your progress.
Planning ahead may also help you distribute your protein, fat, and carbs throughout the coming weeks more effectively. Remember that the food offered at such outings are typically high in both carbs and fat, but low in protein. To make the treats of the season fit your numbers, you’ll need to save room for them! Like is true of so many things in life, the first step is creating awareness of what lies ahead.
Tip 2- Be Flexible to Keep in Control
While planning is key to success, it is important that you don’t ban any types of foods, drinks, or social engagements. Maintaining a flexible attitude in life is important to controlling our bodies stress response, and we all want to keep our composure (and maintain our sanity) through this busy season.
If we have no restrictions in these areas of our life, we won’t have unhealthy cravings for things like boxes of Ferrero Rochers, a line-up of sugary martinis, or late nights eating & drinking on the town. If we tell ourselves we can have these things at any time, the urge to eat or partake in them generally ceases to overwhelm us.
In other words, by letting yourself have these foods and do these things occasionally, the cravings lose their power. You may find that you really don’t want them in your life anyways. But if/ when you do, you can truly enjoy them – because you are in full control.
Tip 3- Practice Moderation in all Things
Allow yourself nutrient-void, calorie-dense foods in small amounts – but fill the majority of your diet with nourishing, satiating foods (remember our 80/20 motto). There has to be a balance between what is nourishing to your body, but also what will satisfy your soul.
When aspiring to practice moderation at social events, we encourage you to focus on meeting new people or catching up with old acquaintances. Being social and making the most out of these opportunities will not only build memories; by taking the focus away from food you’ll slow down your eating pace. To discourage frequent nibbling, we suggest locating your conversations across the room from the buffet table or open bar, if present.
If you do feel like over-indulging, consider asking yourself what will feel better – eating and drinking until your hearts content now, or that feeling of pride, accomplishment, and satisfaction when you reach your performance, health, and/or body composition goal(s)?
And if you do slip-up, remember life will go on. Get right back to healthy eating with your next meal.
Tip 4- Maintain a Sense of Mindfulness
If you aren’t mindful of your food and drink selections, it’s easy to overindulge. Over the holiday season, to get the most from this time of year, we recommend that you aim to eat most of your meals in the company of others. After all, food plays a special role in social relationships.
If there are high calorie foods you can have year-round or items that you know you don’t like a lot, don’t eat them purely because they’re offered to you. Choose the dishes you really love and can’t get any other time of year, like grandma’s famous sweet potato casserole. Take your time over it, enjoying the smell and taste.
And as it takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full, we recommend holding off on going in for seconds until your body has had some time to process.
Tip 5- Pick Protein First
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. Before heading out the door to attend an event, we recommend having a high-protein snack so you don’t arrive at the event ravenously hungry. You might opt for a boiled egg with salt & pepper, or a homemade tuna salad – for example.
While at the event, scope out the protein and other nourishing options available; fill your plate with lean protein before anything else, then go for the fresh foods on the table. Chilled shrimp, sliced meats, veggies, and fresh fruits are nutritious low-calorie appetizers.
If attending a sit-down dinner, start by choosing your protein option(s). Turkey breast (if available) is high protein, tasty, filling, and can help you stay on track during the holiday meal. To keep down your saturated fat intake, serve yourself turkey breast or other white meat without the skin. Follow this with your vegetable options before diving into food like stuffing and potatoes. By systematically building your meal, you’ll be less tempted to gorge yourself and go over your macros.
Tip 6- Follow up with Fibre
Carb options that are higher in fibre will absorb more slowly, thus helping you feel fuller for longer. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are all high in fibre, and will do much more to satisfy your hunger than sugary desserts and other low-fibre carbs. The added fibre will also keep things moving through your system so you won’t feel so weighed down by your meal.
If preparing a meal at home, consider adding pureed cauliflower into the mashed potatoes, whole grain bread to the stuffing, and/or preparing several fresh veggie dishes such as roasted carrots, zucchini and squash. Offering a large green salad will help the fibre content of the meal as well.
If attending a party, you might offer to bring a high fibre dish to share, such as roasted Brussel sprouts with raisins or a mixed bean salad.
Tip 7- Borrow from Other Days
If you accidently blow over your calorie and macro targets during an evening out, but you have a few days left before the week ends, consider ‘borrowing’ from those other days.
For example, if you go over your carb and fat targets at a social event, and you have two more days left before the week ends, you could make up for this by moderately dropping your carb and fat on each of the following days. If you get caught in this sticky situation, our Coach is always here to provide guidance on your next steps.
While it’s not the best idea to get into a habit of doing this regularly, borrowing from other days after a big event might help to salvage your week.
Tip 8- Don’t Drink ALL Your Calories
While we look forward to a good vaso de vino as much as anyone, it is important to keep in mind that alcohol is far less filling than solid food. While you certainly can still lose fat and get lean with moderate alcohol consumption, consuming alcohol in great excess will have a negative effect on your progress (not to mention, your overall feelings of health and wellbeing).
And go easy on the egg nog! A single cup of egg nog contains about 340 calories and 19 grams of fat. When preparing this holiday treat yourself, consider making a low-calorie egg nog with low fat milk, egg white and/or egg substitute, and stevia.
Stick to consuming a few alcoholic drinks during your social engagements, preferably with food, and make sure you drink sufficient water throughout the night. The dreaded morning-after hangover is due largely to the dehydrating effect of alcohol.
To summarize, we recommend you start by mapping out your holiday engagements for the month and staying flexible; while at an event, work on practicing moderation, staying mindful, picking the higher protein and fibre options at the buffet table, and not drinking all of your calories; if you do over-indulge a little, consider adjusting your intake in the following days so you come out on top at the end of the week, and get right back on track with your next meal. Armed with some thought provoking tips and strategies, let’s enter this joyful season with a mindset of abundance and mindfulness.