Many people worry about gaining weight during the holiday season—and for good reason. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Americans tend to experience the most significant weight gain of the year. The holiday season often brings with it a sense of normalcy around overindulging.
While it's important for everyone to enjoy the festivities, keeping the following tips in mind can assist you in staying on track with your wellness goals while celebrating.
Don’t Let Physical Hunger Influence Eating Behaviors
Making sound food choices becomes more challenging when you're hungry. In addition to influencing your food selection, hunger can also impact portion control.
Aim for small, frequent meals throughout the day to prevent going more than four hours without eating. This helps maintain stable blood sugar levels and keeps hunger in check.
Curb Your Appetite Before You Go
Many individuals believe that skipping meals is a strategy to "save" calories for indulgent foods. However, this approach often backfires and can be unhealthy.
Plan to eat light meals or a protein-filled snack before any big holiday event to prevent overeating. This will make it easier to enjoy those tasty dishes without overindulging.
Protein is more effective at curbing hunger compared to other nutritional sources. The high-quality protein found in Unjury® products is particularly good at keeping you satiated longer.*
Plan Ahead to Avoid Stress Eating
When you plan ahead, you set yourself up for success. This is especially true for holiday eating.
While you may not be able to control your options when attending holiday parties, be consistent when you can. If you find yourself at a buffet, practice mindful eating and plan your plate accordingly: Focus on protein first, then choose steamed, grilled, broiled, or roasted veggies instead of anything fried.
If you’re headed to a restaurant this year, look up the menu before you get there to determine what you will eat. Check out the appetizers instead of a large entree or ask for a healthy substitution for side dishes. This would also include dressings and sauces that might come with an entree. Ask for condiments on the side, and be conscientious of how much you are using.
Continue to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day to keep your metabolism active. Incorporate physical activity whenever possible. Ensure that you get adequate rest, as sleep deprivation can elevate the production of hunger hormones, potentially leading to overeating.1
Recreate Your Favorite Comfort Foods with Healthy Ingredients
Do you have a favorite dish you can’t bear to miss this holiday? Instead of diving in and regretting it later, try making it with healthier ingredients.
If you're hosting, incorporating a variety of healthy foods into the spread is easily achievable. If you're a guest, consider bringing a nutritious dish to share. Not only is it a thoughtful gesture, but it also guarantees that you'll have a wholesome option to enjoy.
Here are some other tricks for making your favorite holiday dish a healthier option:
- Use only half the sugar called for in a recipe (most people won’t notice a difference)
- Use applesauce or prune puree as an alternative for half of the fat in a recipe
- Use cooking spray instead of butter
- Thicken soups with pureed veggies
- Use cooked risotto rice instead of a cream mix
- Use skim milk instead of whole milk for fat-free mashed potatoes and soups
- Add more herbs and spices rather than fats for flavor
- Replace one whole egg in a recipe with two egg whites
Consider adding Unjury protein to your dish to optimize the nutrition quality. Try some of these delicious recipes!
Acknowledge Poor Eating Habits and Move Forward
Regardless of how well you plan or how determined you are, maintaining your wellness routine during the holidays can pose a challenge. Stress, temptation, and peer pressure are just a few of the factors that may lead to overindulgence.
It's essential to remember that if you do veer off course, all is not lost. A single meal or event does not derail your overall progress. Take a moment to reflect on what contributed to the slip-up, learn from it, and use that knowledge to avoid similar situations in the future. Most importantly, recognize that the sooner you resume your healthy habits, the easier it will be to get back on track.
Remember that the holiday season is about enjoying the company of friends and family above all else. The food is all secondary!
1. Cooper CB et al. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2018;4(1):e000392.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.