I’ve been working in nutrition for over 10 years now and not a year goes by where I don’t receive an influx of calls and new clients post the holiday season. The holidays should be fun, family filled and obviously delicious, but without strategy this last part can bring with it guilt, belly aches and weight gain.
Have no fear I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I arm my clients with to help them enjoy and indulge guilt free during the holidays. And, yes that means from Halloween (hello, kids candy buckets!) through New Years (cheers to champagne!). Statistically, many people will gain between 7-10 pounds during this time; but with these tips, you’ll avoid all of that without missing a party, dinner or event. All the fun, none of the guilt; and as an added bonus a clear head, more energy and a recipe or two to whip up for the family.
1. Pick your poison: Eating healthy isn’t fun if you can’t indulge once in awhile. Often times though, when we indulge we feel guilty. Instead of having a little, we go all in and eat and drink more than we had planned. For most people, carbs, desserts and alcohol are “add ons” at meals and events that push them over the edge. So, before you dive in, pick your poison: carbs, cake or cocktails – not all three. The next time you go out you can pick another. By giving yourself a choice, you avoid feeling deprived and you also avoid excess calories and discomfort.
2. Spoil your appetite: Most people show up to holiday meals and parties hungry because they save their calories all day in order to eat more later on. This always backfires and causes most people to overeat, feel too full and end up bloated the next day. Never show up to an event hungry and don’t be afraid to have a snack an hour or so before you go. Yes, spoil your appetite to save your waistline.
3. Fill up your plate (the right way): There is a simple equation to eating well during the holidays without being obvious or trying too hard. Keep this in mind when you are walking down the buffet or serving yourself a meal. Fill half your plate with vegetables (yes it’s OK if they have been cooked with oil and no French fries are not considered vegetables in my book). Then, with the other half of your plate, fill ¼ with protein and ¼ with carbs (yes YOU CAN EAT CARBS!). This design creates built in portion control. Still hungry? Go back for more veggies.
4. Don’t drink your calories: Along with the holidays come particular cravings including coffee drinks and fancy cocktails. We are all grown ups here, so let’s get the sugar out of our beverages. Coffee shouldn’t be dessert and sugar-laden cocktails cause hangovers (that makes for tough mornings with the kiddos). I recommend you put down the whip cream, brown sugar and cranberry juice and man up. Limit yourself to a splash of milk and 1 packet of sugar in your coffee (if any at all) and add club soda and citrus fruits to your alcohol. One of my favorite drinks is Tequila on the rocks, a splash of club soda and a bunch of limes. You’ll be able to indulge without adding extra calories.
5. Start your day with protein to prevent cravings and conquer hunger later on: If you start your day off right, you can keep sugar cravings and leftover Christmas cookies at bay. Research shows that starting your morning with protein, and/or healthy fats, reduces blood sugar spikes and therefore cravings for carbs, empty calories and caffeine. Below is a quick recipe for my Correction Smoothie, perfect for rehydrating after a long night, debloating and hunger crushing. The best part is that it’s safe for your children too! Not into smoothies? Then how about a frittata or these yummy grain free muffins? If carbs are calling your name, make them whole-grain and full of healthy fats to help balance your blood sugar levels, keep energy high and cravings at bay.
6. Last but not least….have fun and enjoy your holidays! The holiday season is such a special time, remember to have fun and by embracing even one of the above guidelines, you’ll come out feeling better than before. The holidays aren’t a time for weight loss, so consider maintaining your weight throughout this season a huge success and head into the New Year feeling accomplished, empowered and relaxed. Isn’t the New Year a time to fine tune anyway?
Here are a few of my go-to recipes to keep you on track.
1. Correction Smoothie
1.5 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk
1 serving of protein powder (my favorite is Moon Juice or Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein in Vanilla)
1 TBSP chia seeds
¾ cup frozen berries (any kind, it’s up to you)
Large handful fresh or frozen spinach or kale
Squeeze of lemon
1-inch knob fresh ginger
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Add all ingredients into your blender. Blend until desired consistency is met (add liquid as needed). Pour into glass and top with 1 TBSP crushed walnuts or sliced almonds and a dash more cinnamon. Enjoy!
3. Adventure Bread
Slightly adapted from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook. I enjoy two slices with avocado or Kite Hill almond based “cream cheese.” Yum!
Psyllium husks are typically sold in the nutrition supplement section of many supermarkets and most organic markets.
Tips and recipes provided by Amy Shapiro, the founder of Real Nutrition, a nutrition counseling and weight management company based in New York City, and lives by the slogan: Real Feed. Real Life. Real Solutions.