It’s that time of year again, fun and festive and social! It is a time full of parties, drinks and treats – enough for even the most disciplined person to fall face first into a pile of sugary delights and sweetened beverages. While I am all for the occasional cookie or piece of pie, sometimes one little chocolate truffle can turn into a week-long binge on anything and everything available that even resembles a treat. Many Americans use the New Year’s Resolution as an excuse to make poor choices during the holidays, promising to start over again when the New Year rolls around. Many people begin joining gyms by the thousands and swear THIS is the year they will lose weight and get their diet right. Unfortunately, most of those new January 2nd gym memberships start going unused by March and people fall right back into the same inefficient diet and lifestyle they had before, perhaps even putting on more weight due to the exact holiday binge eating they swore would be their last hurrah with sugary foods.
Eating healthy IS a lifestyle, not a diet. So my list of healthy tips isn’t about staying on a diet, it is about living your best life, being free from food addictions and sugar binges, and living wild like you were meant to. If you treat yourself right, your life will reward you. Enjoy!
1) If you are going to holiday party, eat before you go.
There is no rule stating that you have to eat the food at the function you are going to. Eat a meal high in fat and protein before heading out so you are satiated. This will help you avoid being hungry and eating candy and junk food later. So even if you must try one of those delectable holiday goodies, you will try only one, not ten of them.
2) If you are going to a holiday party and you know you want to eat something sweet, make your own grain-free snacks and bring enough to share with others.
If you make a more Paleo version of the treat you just can’t get thru December without, at least you know what’s in it. This is better than eating any refined-sugar/grains-crap-in-a-box option. Plus you look like a saint for bringing something to the party and may even turn on other guests to your more natural choices. You could even bring my Coconut Cupcakes with “Zesty” Lime Frosting and blow some minds!
3) Minimize or at least modify your alcohol consumption.
Like many people, I love me some booze during the holidays!! So many delicious and creative cocktails this time of year, it is almost impossible not to try the pumpkin martinis! (Ahem…) Punches, egg nogs, the glory of filling cinnamon-dusted martini glasses with pumpkin martinis….Unfortunately all these delightfully festive drinks contain a massive amount of sugar, not to mention that ALL alcohol (yes, including “healthy” red wine) wreck havoc on your sweet little digestive system. Then of course, comes the hangover… If you decide to drink at a party, drink slowly and savor the thing instead of guzzling it down like a frat boy. Drinking slowly = less overall consumption. On top of that, try to avoid the sweeter drinks and play bartender by making your own less sugary beverage, like Robb Wolf’s NorCal Margarita or my personal favorite go-to “skinny” drink: grain-free Vodka (like Ciroc) with sugar-free, flavored sparkling water. May sound boring, but gets the job done with no added sugar.
4) Just because your sweet old Mom is serving lasagna, warm French bread and chocolate cake for Christmas does NOT mean you have to eat it.
This is a tough one for most people since, hey, it’s Mom! But once again, be mindful. I will never begrudge anyone the chance to eat lasagna. Ever. However, if you are trying to heal your gut, or lose weight or rid yourself of unhealthy food cravings, hold off. Eat the meatballs & your mom’s delicious meat sauce with spaghetti squash instead. Add a salad or to keep with the Italian theme, eat some of the antipasto your mom has in the fridge, and toss the bread aside. After dinner eat some berries with whipped coconut milk instead. YUM! Mom might think your diet is crazy, but that’s OK. Chances are she always thought you were a little wacko anyway…
5) The day after you indulge, do not eat any sugar or processed foods.
This is important since you may crave sugary desserts after having some the day before. To nip this potential downward spiral in the bud, eat real food instead. Luckily, most of us crave fatty foods after having some drinks so if you venture out for the post-drinking diner breakfast, get your bacon and eggs on instead of eating the French Toast. Good habits are easy to maintain when you are mindful of what is good for your body. Do not just blindly follow your cravings or order what other people order for the sake of “fitting in.” Yes, food should be enjoyed – luckily if you eat Paleo, all your food is enjoyable already – but you do not need to choose cupcakes over a rib-eye in order to find satisfying, tasty food. The steak will fill you up and provides an almost perfect nutritional profile. The cupcakes will only make you want more cupcakes. And down the spiral we go…Stop the cravings before they start.
So there are my 5 tips for healthy holiday eating. Hope you find them to be helpful on your quest to Live Wild! I will leave you with a reminder that eating sweets and processed food will negatively affect your workouts as well. Eating poorly will always rear its ugly head during your workouts – anyone who has a regular fitness routine is probably nodding emphatically right now! Don’t sabotage all your progress by eating foods with no nutritional value. These foods only trigger more hunger since the body needs nutrients to feel satiated. On top of that, empty calories make you weak and tired and you will most likely not have the mental and physical exuberance you normally feel when doing your deadlifts and pull-ups, or you may not want to work out at all. Your body needs fuel to perform. Don’t let the holidays mess up your fitness routine. Just Eat Real Food. Even on Christmas.