Sometimes it can feel like staying healthy during the holidays is impossible. Luckily, we’ve got a few pointers to help you out. Jess Clark, a certified fitness nutrition specialist, personal trainer and soon-to-be Austin Cycologist, walks us through her time-tested-tips for the season.
Here’s part one in her Holiday Health series:
Enjoying the Parties Without Getting Weighed Down:
• Eat a small, healthy snack before you go to the party, so you’re not starving when you get there (like an apple and almond butter or Greek yogurt and blueberries).
• At the appetizer table, opt for lean proteins and fresh veggies first to fill you up.
• Save alcohol for the events where you really want to celebrate.
• Alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water to help you stay hydrated and avoid a hangover.
• Opt for light beer, dry wines, spritzers, and cocktails made with club soda instead of juices.
• Head home at a reasonable hour so you can get at east 7-8 hrs of sleep
• If you eat late, always pick protein and either fats or low-sugar carbs. Protein is key.
• Bottom line: Give up your FOMO habit this year. Only go to the parties you really want to attend.
Navigating The Big Holiday Meals:
• Pass on the suspicious stuff. Your mantra this season should be: “If I don’t love it, I don’t eat it (no matter who made it).” This is not a season to pack on calories as a courtesy to others.
• Use a smaller plate to naturally keep your portion sizes smaller.
• Prioritize the protein! Though it may surprise you, one serving of protein is about the size of your palm (4-6 oz), and is plenty for one meal.
• Add 1 cup of veggies or salad to your plate (more if you’re passing on the starchy veggies).
• Don’t deprive yourself. Have a few bites of starchy sides like sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, or a side of dressing. These are all much better for you than loading up your plate with calorie-dense foods. For reference, about 2/3 of a cup of starchy sides is all you need.
• One trick to narrowing down the endless appetizers? Prioritize seasonal foods over things you can eat anytime (pumpkin pie over mashed potatoes, for example).
• A TBSP of butter or gravy is plenty. Most holiday food is cooked with butter and oils, so limit added fats as much as possible.
• Pick either dessert or bread, but not both. If pumpkin pie is an option, it’s a better bet than cookies, cakes or sugary pies. Skip the a la mode option and indulge with a dollop of whipped cream.
• Holiday meals and party food is notoriously over-salted. Try not to add table salt and be sure to drink water with your meal.
• Watch the booze and limit your consumption of carb-dense beverages like beer, sweet wines (dry is always the best option), and sugary mixed drinks.
• Be sure to eat your other meals on the holidays, just like you would on any other day. Don’t starve all morning only to over-consume at one meal.
• Eat slowly and enjoy the conversation! This will help your brain signal when you’re full to keep you from going back for seconds (or thirds).
• Leave the leftovers for the rest of the family, or only take the proteins home. Turkey, ham, and other roasted meats are easy to reheat and pair with veggies for future healthy meals.
Stay strong, eat smart, and stay tuned to Jess’s next blog post with more tips!