Eating well is not about being 100% perfect every day, every meal, especially over the holidays. However, you shouldn’t treat the holidays as a free pass to eat whatever you want, or you’re setting yourself up for disaster and possible regret come January 1st. Try some of Tony’s favorite tips to help you stay on track during the holidays.
1. Accountability is key
For years I’ve stressed the importance of accountability. Whether its finding a workout partner, posting your meals, joining a group like my new Dietbet Challenge, keeping a food journal, or writing out your goals, accountability is the key to your success.
2. Offer to host the party
By hosting the party or dinner yourself, you are in control of the foods that are served, so you can substitute unhealthy ingredients and dishes for healthier options. Controlling food supply is easier when you’re the one in control.
3. Don’t skip meals
It’s tempting to save your appetite for all of the delicious food at a holiday gathering, but you’re also setting yourself up to overindulge and make bad choices. Before your holiday meal, eat a protein- and healthy-fat-packed snack such as veggies and humus or celery with nut butter. Protein and fat help you cut your cravings for sugar and carbohydrates.
4. Start smart
Start your meal with soup and salad or fresh veggies, and avoid snacking before your meal on appetizers made with refined flour or sugary treats. Volunteer to bring something so you’re guaranteed to have at least one healthy dish you enjoy and can load up.
5. Rethink your drinks
Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and sends you down a slippery slope of bad choices. Most alcoholic beverages are also filled with sugar and empty calories. Limit alcohol intake, or better yet, avoid it altogether. If you do indulge on a drink or two, drink water in between and make the rest of your beverages sparkling water, tea or water with lemon or lime.
6. Eat mindfully
I’ve been talking a lot about mindfulness lately, and that’s because I’ve realized how important it is! Before each meal, take five deep breaths, and tune into how hungry you really are. As you eat, focus on flavors, colors and smells, and try to put your fork down between bites. Halfway through your meal, pause, put down your fork and take a few more deep breaths. Assess your hunger on and ask yourself, “How much more food do I need to feel satisfied without feeling uncomfortable?”
7. Don’t cave to peer pressure
We’ve all been there when the well-meaning friend or relative asks you why you’re not having a piece of their homemade fudge or having another glass of wine. Just know that no one will feel insulted if you explain, “I’m here for the company, not just the food.”
8. Set your intention
Before indulging in holiday food and spirits and desserts, set an intention for the event such as “I will start with vegetables, limit myself to two glasses of wine and water, and only have two bites of dessert after dinner.” Of course only you know your weaknesses, so you’ll set an intention that feels right for you. Setting an intention makes you less likely to indulge in foods and activities that make you feel less than your best.
Remember above all else not to beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon. Just do your best and forget the rest!