5 Tips to Enjoy the Holidays AND Stay in Shape

With the high number of 'how to stay on track over Christmas' posts going around, we want to remind you that it is totally ok to take a few days to go completely off plan, eat foods that you enjoy and make the most of being around loved ones. We do also understand, however, that going off track can cause some people anxiety, or trigger an all out binge. Here are some handy tricks to practice that all important balance and get the best of both worlds.

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Lower Calorie Party Snacks

When there is a table of party food out, it can be difficult not to pick at things just because they’re there. The accumulated calories from the odd handful here and there can be pretty shocking. For example, 100g mixed nuts, a ‘healthy’ choice, can easily pack 600 calories!

If you are hosting, have low calorie options like sticks of carrot, cucumber and celery with a low cal dip like light mayo out. We are not saying that those are all you should eat by any means, but when you reach out for something out of boredom, it’s a great way to manage temptation. Other top choices:

  • turkey breast
  • berries
  • pickled vegetables

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Smart Alcohol Choices

Most of us don’t want to go alcohol-free in the name of fitness. And that’s fine! Try to avoid heavy alcohols such as pints of beer. Cocktails are another option that you want to avoid or keep to just the one- they’re often loaded with syrups. Instead, go for a single of a clear spirit like gin or vodka, and always choose a sugar free mixer (diet coke, slimline tonic…).

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Stay Active

This does NOT mean trying to burn off the calories that you are eating. It simply means that fitness should remain a part of your routine as much as possible. If you take 4 weeks completely off training, getting back into it will be harder. Another way to keep expenditure up is taking a short leisurely walk outside after meals. This will have a positive influence on blood glucose and digestion, whereas you’re much more likely to feel sluggish and bloated going straight to the sofa for the rest of the day! It is also something that you can do as a family. Ice skating would be another fun winter day out!

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Fill up on Good Stuff!

If you know that you have a meal out at 7pm, don’t starve yourself all day to ‘make up’ for extra calories. If you go in to a restaurant or buffet absolutely ravenous, you’re likely to order something more calorie dense, shovel it down without fully enjoying it, and eating until you are uncomfortable. Keep your protein intake high throughout the day (lean meats, shakes, egg whites) and eat plenty of greens to fill your stomach without blowing your calories.

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Work on Mindset

Don’t go into the festive season with the mindset of ‘I’ll just get it all out my system in December and start again in January’. Food is not to be used as a reward or punishment. The most important thing about the holidays is time spent with family.

  • don't continue eating when full
  • don't isolate yourself out of fear of food
  • remember that one day won't undo months of hard work

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Happy Holidays!

About the Author

Savannah Westerby. BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Instagram: @savannahwesterby

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