The holidays are a time to come together with the people you love. Your home is decorated, and of course, there are always snacks, plus enough food to feed everyone who is with you and still have leftovers. The trick that many face during this time of the year is how to celebrate without your clothes feeling a bit tighter than they should and losing the progress that you spent months working on with your diet. 

It doesn’t matter if you are just trying to get ready in time for summer, or if you’re trying to increase your athletic performance, eating healthy during the holidays is important. Our holiday eating guide covers some questions answered by our trainers at Paragon Strength & Fitness to help you make sure your holidays are both happy and healthy.

Christmas is a great time to spend with family, but you don’t have to spend that time sitting around watching TV. Make plans to be active with your family. Moving daily can help keep you healthy.

1. How Can I Be Healthy at Christmas?

Be cautious around alcohol. It can be tempting to just have a few drinks, but even the calories in light beer can start to stack up fast. If you have more than your fair share of drinks a day over your holidays you can be adding hundreds, if not thousands, of calories to your diet that have no nutritional value and only require you to spend even more time working out to break even. Enjoy your drinks with your family, but keep your intake under moderation.

2. How Can I Eat Healthy Around the Holidays?

Traditional Christmas and holiday food are swimming in fat and carbohydrates. If you’re looking to eat healthy around the holidays, you might want to change your menu and shop smart. Plan your menu well before the big day, and stick to it. Don’t go to the store and grab whatever looks tasty, but be intentional with your food. When you are planning your meals, focus on produce and healthy substitutions. 

3. What is Conscious Eating?

Conscious, or mindful, eating is eating slowly and without distraction. As you eat, you are aware of your physical levels of hunger and do not eat more than you need or feel comfortable with. Trust your body to tell you what to eat and when to stop. If you’re not hungry, or if your body doesn’t want a certain food, don’t eat. Listen to your body and stop when you are full. When you are eating, be in the moment and focus only on eating; don’t distract yourself with a TV show, movie, parade, or anything else that is going on.

4. How Can I Avoid Gaining Weight over the Holidays?

During the holiday season, often it’s not the mealtimes that you have to look out for, but the abundant amount of snacks. There are gingerbread houses, sugar cookies, sweets, candies, crackers, and so much more that are out on the table or countertop throughout the entire holiday free to pick up whenever you want. 

Remember that you don’t have to eat just because there’s food around you. It’s best to avoid snacking altogether both before, during, and after the holiday season. Keep your workouts and workout times consistent.  Most likely you’ll have some time off of work, which should free up your schedule to keep your workouts included in your daily schedule.

5. How Do You Eat Right During the Holidays?

If you’re not in charge of the food, eat small, regular meals. Don’t eat less the day of a big party and then binge at dinner. This will help you from overeating while still keeping your diet and health in mind throughout the holidays. 

When you do start to eat, start simple. Filling your plate with veggies, fruit, green salads, and lean meats to start off with can help curb your appetite and keep you away from the high-calorie side dishes that you keep eyeing. 

That being said, you don’t have to eat sad to eat right. You can allow yourself a taste of those delicious pies, desserts, and sides, but eat in moderation. Keep it to a small taste test. If you don’t think that a small taste will be enough, don’t even start. Know your limits and work within them. 

6. How Can I Stay on Track with My Diet During the Holidays?

If you are able to manage your own food, stick to your menu and don’t have a cheat day. You have the power to control what you eat, and just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean that you are forced into eating unhealthy.

7. How Can I Train My Brain to Eat Less?

Consider eating on a smaller plate. We tend to fill our plates, no matter what size they are. With a smaller plate, you won’t be able to fill it as much, and you’ll keep your caloric intake lower than if you had a large plate. Just make sure that you don’t go back for seconds, thirds, or fourths or else you’re just defeating the purpose of using the smaller plate. 

Another trick to help you eat less is to eat a plate and wait 10 minutes after before deciding on seconds. Often times with delicious foods, we eat so fast that we skip over that “full” feeling until we are well into the “uncomfortably full” feeling.

8. How Can I Boost My Metabolism?

Your metabolic rate is the number of calories you burn. The higher it is, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off. One way to increase your metabolic rate is by increasing the energy your body has to expend to digest your food. Eating plenty of protein at every meal makes your body spend extra calories to digest, absorb, and process the nutrients in your meal. 

Another tip is drinking cold water. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (½ a liter) of water increases your resting metabolism by 10-30%.  Water can also help fill you up, which will help you eat less. 

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help you kickstart your metabolic rate. HIIT involves quick and very intense bursts of activities. This can help you increase your metabolic rate both during and after your workout. Other forms of exercise can help you with your metabolic rate, but HIIT is shown to improve it higher than any other exercise program.

Muscle is more metabolically active than fat; thus, the more muscle tissue that you have, the higher your metabolic rate. Increasing your muscle strength helps improve your metabolic rate. This means that including weights into your workout is key and will help you burn calories even while resting. 

9. Which Exercise Burns the Most Belly Fat?

There are no ways to target belly fat alone. For your body, fat is fat and it doesn’t matter where it is stored. To decrease belly fat, you have to reduce fat over your entire body. 

The two keys to getting defined abs are burning body fat and building muscle. There are a variety of exercises that you can do besides the traditional crunch to strengthen your abs. Consider doing rotational side planks, regular planks, or decline sit-ups to help strengthen your stomach. Remember that as you do these it’s going to take time to get the results you’re looking for. It takes time and dedication to get to your ideal body shape. 

10. How Do I Stop Overeating at Christmas?

Overeating might feel good for a bit, but as soon as you’re done you’re going to feel tired and potentially sick. To avoid overeating, be consistent with your amounts of food.  Try to eat your normal amount of food that you would eat on a non-holiday occasion. Taste test treats, or skip them altogether.  

Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the meal. Drink fresh, cold water instead of drinking your calories in alcohol or soda. This will help you stay healthy and hydrated, while also helping your stomach feel full from drinking water. 

11. How Do You Eat Clean Over the Holiday?

Eating healthy, fresh food is always important, no matter what time of year it is. A lot of the staple foods during the holidays can involve a lot of canned foods, which can greatly increase the amount of sodium you are intaking. A great way to make your meals healthier and cleaner is by using fresh ingredients to make the same meals. You’ll get a better tasting and healthier meal. 

As long as you stay aware of your diet and what you are eating throughout the festive season, it is possible to come away from the holidays healthy and happy. If you want to know more about how to eat smart and healthy through your holidays, contact us to find out more holiday eating guide tips. We can help you reach your holiday and new year’s goals with our wide variety of services. With everything from nutrition to online coaching, we can help get you on track today.