Tips for a Healthy Holiday

by Alex White, Co-Founder + Head Performance Coach at Peak Human Performance.

The holiday season is fast approaching, and this is the time of year when even those among us with the strongest willpower give in to unhealthy habits and WAY too much over-indulging!

Given that things are just a bit different this year, this may be one of the easiest (or most difficult) years to stay on track. That still remains to be seen for each of us!

Even in a world of holiday Zoom calls and virtual happy hours, it is nearly impossible to completely avoid the decadence of food and drink that define the holiday season. If your goal is to get through this holiday, healthy, happy, and without a few extra pounds, here are a few healthy holiday tips to help you overcome.

  1. Don’t attend a gathering starving – Holiday parties are usually adorned with appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, cheese trays, and plates of desserts. If you end up going hungry and dinner isn’t served for another hour, you may get weak in the knees to fill your empty stomach. Eating a small meal or having a protein shake BEFORE you arrive will help you avoid filling up on snacks. This will also help keep you from overeating if and when a meal is finally served.
  2. Hydrate – Drinking water gives your body what it needs to function properly, and helps you feel full when you might otherwise be tempted to over-indulge. In addition to drinking water, choose foods that contain high-water content like fruits and vegetables because they help to keep you feeling fuller longer, without the extra calories.
  3. Mix in some healthy snacks – Even during the craziest of years, the holidays are full of opportunities to indulge in foods that are not healthy and lack the nutrients your body needs. If you are bringing a dish to share, consider a plate of veggies and hummus. Keep healthier snacks – like nuts, raw veggies, fruit, and dark chocolate – nearby to give you the nutritional boost you need to curb your cravings for salty chips, fatty dips, and decadent desserts.
  4. Drink smart – I don’t expect you to completely avoid alcohol during the holidays, (I mean, c’mon!) but if you are really interested in taking care of yourself this year, try drinking smarter – you won’t regret your choices in the morning. Try drinking a glass of water in between each finished cocktail or go pro and double fist a glass with every cocktail, taking sips of water between drinks. Avoid sugary mixed drinks and keep it skinny, using soda water and lemon or keep it neat for those bourbon lovers.
  5. Keep it fitted – Maybe you’ve joked about wearing sweatpants to your holiday gatherings so you can eat more… well this year that may be a real option! Instead, dress to impress – even if you are staying home – with your best fitted outfit. You’ll look amazing for the pictures in your Insta feed, and you will also avoid overeating to avoid the discomfort that comes with a full, bloated belly trapped by a restrictive outfit. A definite win-win!
  6. Take your time – Mindlessly stuffing your face is easy when you are multitasking. If you’re hosting or Zoom talking with friends and family, it is easy to overeat. Take a break, sit down and enjoy your food – chew slowly and allow yourself time to savor each bite.
  7. Indulge! – Ok, well the whole point of this is how not to over-indulge and stay healthy through the holidays … and the key is to allow yourself to indulge just a bit so you won’t feel deprived. Remember, it’s the 80/20 rule we live by! Enjoying a sweet treat won’t get you off track completely and will help you to avoid a full-blown binge.
  8. Workout – As you gear up for the big holiday party, start the day off with your typical workout routine. Starting with movement will not only get your metabolism roaring for the day, but it will also get your hormones in check, help alleviate stress, and curb cravings as well as give you a subtle glow.

Make sure you stick to your workout routine throughout the holidays this year. If you can hold steady, you are much less likely to binge eat. Knowing that you will need to wake up in the morning for a sweat session will go a long way towards keeping you from over-indulging when you are alone or with friends and family.

Of course remember, it is the holiday season so it’s okay to treat yourself. Just remember to do so in moderation. And by all means whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty over having one drink, or a couple of cookies!

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