Healthy Holiday Hacks

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Healthy Holiday Hacks

I met with one of my fabulous clients the other day. She'd been crushing her weight loss goals, but she was worried. She'd had become absolutely convinced that the holidays were going to destroy all her hard work.


I acknowledged that yes, of course, from now until January, the average person does gain a few pounds. However, before indulging in her worries, I asked her how many days would be a challenge in the holiday season…


After considering her commitments, family obligations, and parties, she arrived at 4 days of opportunity for potential over-indulging, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas Eve, and New Year's Eve.


That's it! 4 days...


4 days out of 42 days, or roughly 6 weeks. 


The time when most of the festivities and tempting treats of the holiday season are front and center. 


I'm a firm believer in moderation. We CAN enjoy the holidays and make memories without fear of blowing all of our body composition efforts.

Often, we believe that any attempt towards weight loss or improving our body composition from now until January 2 is a wasted effort. We abandon our commitment to our healthy habits before the Thanksgiving turkey is even set down on the table…


What kind of logic is that?


In reality, we CAN find moderation. It IS possible to stick to a healthy eating plan. And you can do both while thoroughly enjoying all the festivities of the season.


Use the following tips to make all holiday gatherings more enjoyable, memorable, and stress-free when it comes to food so you can savor what the holidays are truly about.


Holiday Health Hack: Bring your own meal to the gathering

There's no better way to share your healthy intentions with friends and family than by making them a nutritious meal. These days, you can find all sorts of healthy recipes online, or perhaps there's even a healthy Pro Core Foodies recipe you can make! Maybe you can teach them a

thing or two! By making a tasty and nutritious meal, you might just challenge any negative preconceptions they may have about healthy food. By bringing your own meal, you can at least rest assured you'll be having something nutritious on your holiday plate.


Holiday Health Hack: Practice mindful eating

Eating while distracted can have a significant impact on your weight and overall health. Take time to appreciate the

aroma, tastes, and textures while you're eating. Enjoy the environment you're in and the people you're with. Take a breath between bites. This is a beautiful way to practice slowing

down and eating more mindfully. You might just find that incorporating this awareness and slowing down helps you eat less and enjoy your meal more.


Holiday Health Hack: Beware the kitchen counters and office break rooms

I don't know about you, but if I am standing around in the kitchen and there are treats out, all bets are off. If there are two hotspots for holiday treats, kitchen counters, and office break rooms,

take the cake – (or the pie). It's easy (and mindless) to grab a handful of whatever is lying around as you walk by, but try to resist. You'll enjoy food more when you actually sit down to eat

a meal rather than a "drive-by shoveling."


Holiday Health Hack: Don't skimp on your sleep

Have you ever noticed how you crave sugary or salty foods when you're tired? It's not just you. Lack of sleep can seriously alter your appetite. Research shows that poor sleep is associated with increased food intake and an increased risk for weight gain, so make sure

you're getting enough Z's at night. Do what you can to create a calming nighttime routine. If you need help in this area, be sure to reach out to one of our PCF nutrition coaches who can help you create one.


Holiday Health Hack: Keep your stress levels in check

During the holidays, we have to manage all of our day-to-day obligations AND the holiday responsibilities of shopping, extra cooking, caring for kids out of school, and attending events. Try to carve out some time for yourself to decompress -- high stress is linked to

overeating, especially those hyper-palatable foods high in fat and sugar. 


Holiday Health Hack: Pack on the protein

Don't be afraid to go after that Thanksgiving bird y'all! Of all the macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat), protein is the most satiating. Studies suggest that eating lots of protein can reduce your

appetite and assist in weight loss and weight maintenance. Opt for leaner cuts of meat if possible, so turkey is a win here. Or, if plant-based is your thing, load up on the tofurky.


Holiday Health Hack: Fill up on fiber 

Along with protein, fiber pumps up the satiety factor. Fiber helps keep your digestive system regular and, like protein, helps to keep you full. Fiber-rich foods also tend to provide fewer calories with more volume, meaning you can become satisfied with fewer calories. Aim to fill up

your plate with veggies (the greener, the better), and they will fill up your stomach.


For example, one cup (about 100 grams) of broccoli contains just 30 calories and offers 2.4 grams of fiber. Fibrous foods like veggies and whole grains also provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep you healthy.  


Holiday Health Hack: Don't shop or cook while hungry

I have made this mistake before. Going to the grocery store when you're ravenous is never a good idea unless you want to come home with a cart full of holiday goodies. Try to hit the store after you've eaten a healthy meal and go into it with a plan for exactly what you need.

The same goes for when you are about to start cooking those holiday dishes. You want to make sure you're not going into it in a snacky mood. A taste test is great…However, when you're hungry, a couple of taste tests can quickly turn into what would constitute an entire meal. Fight

the urge to prematurely eat the dishes you're cooking by having a healthy meal before you set up shop in the kitchen.


Holiday Health Hack: Limit liquid calories

During the holiday season, our calendars tend to be booked with events from Friendsgivings to work parties. The majority of them involve alcohol. Let's be honest; you're more likely to be served some eggnog than a skinny margarita. Although one or two won't make or break

your diet, try making simple drinks of liquor, a low-calorie mixer, and berries or citrus. 


Ex: vodka

and sparkling water with smashed berries makes for a refreshing, low-calorie drink. 


Holiday Health Hack: Stay hydrated

Sometimes your body sends your brain hunger signals when you're actually just thirsty. A good approach is to drink at least 8 ounces of water every two hours and more if you exercise.

It doesn't have to be plain old water; you can add flavor additives or opt for unsweetened hot tea if you prefer. Staying hydrated can fend off false hunger cues and prevent you from eating food you don't really want or need. 


Holiday Health Hack: Make own decisions

Everyone has those friends and family members who love to comment on what you're eating and why. If you often find yourself in this position, you might want to have a plan going in for what you're going to (politely) say in return. Your dietary preferences and goals are your business. Establishing your own personal boundaries and plan beforehand is usually an excellent approach to managing others' comments, whatever they may be.


Not every hack I've listed will be relevant to you, and that's ok. Find the ones that work best for you and commit to applying them.


If you do that, you'll have an incredible Thanksgiving, AND you'll feel proud of yourself knowing you treated your body the way it deserves to be treated. That's a double win!




Written by Rachel Johnson, Certified Nutrition Coach and Habit Formation Expert

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