Posted by Guest Contributor

Setting Good Holiday Habits & Healthy Things To Eat

Harold Palma 
Entrepreneur & Uprise Nutrition Athlete

'Tis the season of holiday feasting; however that has massive potential for overindulging and weight gain.

A typical American can gain up to 5 lbs just from Thanksgiving to New Years alone. Who can resist a golden-brown Thanksgiving turkey, homemade stuffing, and every conceivable decadent dessert! It is easy to normalize winter eating habits and call it "bulking for the holidays", but this could ruin all the progress you have worked so hard for throughout the year! Fortunately, we're here to help. We'll cover 6 tips on setting good holiday habits and healthy things to eat  to help to curb your cravings and prevent that holiday fluff.

1.) Strategic Meal Planning

 Strategic meal planning does not mean "skipping meals" to save enough calories for the evening. Rather, try following a high protein, high vegetable intake to ensure your body is satiated. This will help prevent hunger cravings and subsequent binge eating - which can be a major inhibiting factor when it comes to maintaining, or losing weight, so tread carefully!

Note: Although you may not exceed your daily calorie levels, your body weight can still fluctuate upwards when indulging in a sweet treat. This can be attributed to water weight (carbohydrates hold 10x their weight in water), inflammation of the digestive tract, and reduced insulin sensitivity. 

2) Portion Control

At feast time, have a balanced plate, which includes fibrous vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, spinach, and/or kale; and a "lean" protein source such as white turkey, chicken breast, or lean beef. Try dividing your plate into sections with veggies, protein, and a bit of carbohydrates A good rule of thumb is to try and have a protein portion approximately the size of your fist and some veggies the size of two! 

Beware: Many vegetables can be bathed in oils and butter. If possible ensure your veggies are, ideally, raw or steamed in water. The right spices and a pinch of salt will go a long way towards flavor, no need to bring more fats to the plate!  

3.) Order of Operations

 The order in which you eat your food has a major impact on your cravings. Eat your protein, first, followed by your vegetables, then your carbohydrates last. Protein and veggies will occupy much of the volume available in your stomach. Creating the order of healthy things to eat makes you satisfied faster and prevents the tendency to over indulge. 

4) Fill The Cracks with Water

Studies have shown that consuming a glass of water before your meal can drastically reduce the total amount of food that you consume. Drinking water while eating will also help increase the volume in your stomach, which sends signals to your brain that your stomach is filled and you are full. Fight the urge to appease that feeling of a calorie deficit if you have followed all steps prior.  

5.) Avoid High Caloric Drinks

Avoid drinking your calories. High caloric drinks are almost exclusively composed of simple sugars, and around the holidays, the cocktails can also be mixed with fatty milk. Avoiding sugary drinks prevents unnecessary caloric intake with next to no nutritional value. If a sweet beverage is a necessity for you, try to swap those drinks with your preferred 0 calorie sweetened beverages. Monk fruit or stevia are good options. 

Note: Fatty Milk isn't necessarily a bad thing and certainly has its uses, but not when combined with sugar!

6) Exchange Your Desserts

Dinner is never complete without dessert. If you are truly dedicated to eating healthy throughout the holidays, but don’t want to endure the harsh ridicule associated with the lifestyle (let’s be real, eating healthy is the exception in today’s society, not the norm) you can opt to eat your dessert in a natural form. Fruits of all varieties can satisfy nearly any sweet tooth. A fruit smoothie with a hearty dollop of whip cream is a suitable compromise to eating a straight pile of sugar in the form of pie. 

Final Thoughts:

Here are some healthy things to eat or swap to keep the calories low while satisfying your cravings:

  • Replacing casseroles with grilled vegetables
  • White meat instead of dark 
  • Plain mashed potatoes (no butter or sour cream)
  • Eating a few pieces of dark chocolate to reduce extreme sugar cravings
  • Skip the butter on your rolls

Remember, the take home message here is to have balance. The best diet for anyone is one that a person can adhere to consistently. 

Happy Holidays form Uprise Nutrition and feast smart!

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