The holiday season is a joyful time, filled with casual gatherings, formal parties and other social occasions. It’s also one of the toughest times of year to keep your healthy eating plan on track.
Maintaining a balanced diet during the holidays can be challenging, especially when you’re faced with an array of tempting treats at every get-together. However, a few simple strategies can help you stick to your nutrition goals. Here are three ways you can maintain a balanced diet during the holidays.
Plan Ahead for Success
A little preparation can make a big difference in your ability to maintain a balanced diet during the holidays. If you know you have a holiday party in the evening, don’t show up hungry. Line your stomach with some healthy foods before you arrive, and you’ll have a much easier time avoiding temptation. A few healthy but filling options include Greek yogurt, lean lunch meats, apples or other fruit, air-popped popcorn and oatmeal.1
If you’ve been asked to bring a dish to a holiday party or dinner, try to bring a lighter favorite to share—other guests who are trying to maintain a balanced diet during the holidays will be grateful.
Practice Moderation to Maintain a Balanced Diet During the Holidays
When it comes to sticking to a balanced diet during the holidays, moderation is key. It’s difficult to get through an entire holiday season without indulging in a treat or two. Taking an “all or nothing” approach to your healthy eating plan is likely to leave you feeling deprived and resentful. If you’ve been craving a slice of pumpkin pie since September, feel free to have one. Just make sure to compensate by skipping other heavy foods that day.
The holidays may not be the best time to work on actively losing weight—you might want to focus on maintaining your current weight during the holiday season and return to your weight-loss plan after the New Year.
Keep an Eye on Your Stress Levels
The holiday season may be a joyous time, but it can also come with added stress. Between shopping for presents, wrapping up year-end projects at work and dealing with difficult relatives at family gatherings, you may find yourself more stressed out than ever.
Instead of turning to food for emotional comfort, try to manage your stress in other ways. Exercise is a great way to combat stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle; you can also try meditation, journaling or making time for a favorite hobby. Be sure to take care of yourself when you’re feeling stressed, and you’ll have an easier time sticking to a balanced diet during the holidays.
Research shows that holiday weight gain is a real issue—one study revealed that about half of the pounds packed on during the holidays still linger by summertime.2 However, it doesn’t have to be difficult to stay on track and maintain a balanced diet during the holidays. With a bit of planning, you’ll be able to enjoy all the holiday festivities and still stick to your healthy eating plan.