Temptations are the reason people often encounter difficulties in maintaining fitness and health during December and January. Weight gain happens during holidays, especially for people who are slightly overweight.
Even if you are not living in your home country, holiday celebrations, social activities, beach afternoons and edible gifts are in celebrations all over the world. How can you survive without turning down all of your friends and family?
Don’t go to the extremes
Moderation. Enjoy the season! If you have a small piece of cake or a ginger bread cookie, it’s ok! Avoid excess.
Make healthier substitutions on your recipes
If you enjoy baking or you have people coming over for dinner, make your favorite recipes healthier!
|Butter or margarine||Reduced fat butter, organic almond or cashew butter or healthier oils such as olive, flaxseed, coconut oil|
|Sugar||Use natural coconut syrup or maple syrup, reduce the amount on the recipe or use organic stevia instead also|
|Milk or evaporated milk||Low fat milk or organic nut milk (unsweetened)|
|Egg||1 egg = 2 egg whites
If the yolk is required in the recipe, reduce the total amount of them and increase the egg whites proportion
Vegan options can be 1 tbsp of flaxeed mixed with 3 tbsp of water, ½ banana, 1 tsp of baking soda with 1 tbsp of vinegar instead of 1 egg
|Matured cheeses||Low fat cheeses such as cottage, feta, ricotta or vegan cheeses (like cashew cheese or macadamia cheese for example)|
|Candied fruit||Fresh natural fruit or dehydrated fruit with no sugar added|
It’s not about having all, is about sharing
The true spirit of holidays is to share with your friends and family, so if someone gives you a box of chocolates, take your portion and share the rest! You don’t need to try everything.
Avoid drinking the calories
Every party or dinner you are invited, always involve drinks. Even if you just meet with a friend for a coffee, you are adding up calories. Replace sugary and alcoholic drinks with water:
- Bottle of water lover: carry and refill your water bottle. Add some flavor with herbal tea or splashes of a fruit juice/piece (like a lemon slice) in the water.
- Not a water lover? Try soda water + lime instead, or ask for virgin cocktails without sugar (like a virgin mojito with no sugar or Bloody Mary).
- Coffee or tea? Plain without sugar or with only a small sip of your type of milk.
- Put a limit on drinks: one glass of wine or one light beer have less than 100 calories. And above all, avoid the cocktails.
Holidays are not holidays from training! Balance the extra social calories with your workouts and extra physical activities such as playing outdoors with your kids or pets, taking walks in family, doing a deep house cleaning, etc.
Here is a survival guide for holiday’s parties:
- Planning: prepare beforehand low-calorie meals for you to have during the day, so you know you can eat a bit more during the event.
- Don’t go hungry: You can restrict yourself during the day and have a light snack before going to the party or dinner. A high-fiber fruit such as guava will keep you from overeating.
- Be careful with snacking: chips and dips, mixed nuts, deli and cheese with bread or crackers… all sounds yummy, but how many calories can you have on them and not even getting yet to the proper dinner? Consider changing to healthy veggie sticks such as ants on a log.
- During dinner: Take a look at all the offerings and choose what you really want to eat. Include vegetables and salad on half of your places and avoid sauces and butter.
- Desserts: If it’s really worth it, take a small bite of the cake or dessert. If there is more than one, choose the one that looks more appealing. Don’t accept to take some home.
The holidays is not just about eating and drinking. Family celebrations doesn’t have to be food-centered! Follow these useful strategies and enjoy this holidays without any sense of guilt! Happy Holidays!
Marcela is a Nutritionist and Dietitian, with a specialisation in Sports Nutrition. She earned her undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition at the University of Costa Rica in 2008, then completed her master’s degree in Integrative Health and Human Movement in the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica in 2010 and a postgraduate degree in Integral Health and Human Movement with an emphasis in Athletes and Sports Nutrition. She has dedicated the past ten years to the sport, competing in several prestigious fights including the Queen’s Cup, the King’s Cup, the World Championship in Bangkok and she has fought for a World Title in Las Vegas.
About the Author
Bochakorn began her education in conventional medicine as a nurse, then shifted to embrace natural healing and integrative medicines. Her training and certifications abroad include: Nutrition and Western Herbal Medicines, Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
During her therapeutic sessions, she may also incorporate other aspects of integrative medicines when required, including: acupuncture, cupping therapy, moxibustion, nutritional, supplements and herbal recommendation.