Winter has almost come, and the holiday food is most certainly threatening to jeopardize our summer efforts of creating better, leaner versions of ourselves. We somehow managed to go through Thanksgiving unharmed – even though it was by a hair’s breadth – but numerous Christmas and New Years parties are still promising countless temptations followed by an equal number of calories.
The holidays are an exciting time.
You get to reunite with family, take a break from the stresses of work and chow down on some great food.
But one thing most people also take a break from is their workout routine. Most of us return to work after the new year with some extra weight around our midsections.
Fear not, since there are some nutrition tips that can be a solid basis for keeping our physical shape in check.
Bear in mind that these can be a valuable reminder both for seasoned sportsmen and women and those who just want to look darn good when they happen to meet local bikers or whoever they are looking to impress, so don’t be lazy and keep reading!
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How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays
It’s okay to indulge a little; after all, it’s time to celebrate. But there’s a thin line between a few extra bites and doing real damage.
To stay in fighting shape this holiday, adhere to the following fitness tips:
Step on the Scale
In some respects, the scale can be your worst enemy.
If you’re gaining muscle and losing fat, your progress isn’t always accounted for in that final number. But during the holidays, you need a quick reading on your current weight.
Nothing shocks you back into reality like stepping on the scale.
Hop on twice a week to make sure you’re keeping things in check.
Don’t Stop Working Out
If you’re away from home for the holidays, it’s easy to skip your workouts. You’re away from the comforts of your home gym.
The spare bedroom in your mom’s house isn’t big enough for a quick workout.
Your holiday schedule is too packed.
There are tons of excuses to skip the sweat sessions. But if you’re really concerned about fighting off the weight gain, try to get a 30-minute workout in three times a week.
No gym? No problem.
Go for a run or try out a body weight workout routine.
The latter can be just as effective as lifting weights.
Stock Up on Appropriate Healthy Foods
Holidays are a perfect excuse to enjoy fried foods and empty carbs, we know, but you should still be able to demonstrate the will of power and get rid of all those prepped meals, sugary foods and various unhealthy snacks because these can do you no good.
Try to find some healthier alternatives instead and then fill your pantry with those.
See Also: Healthy Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes
It’s easier said than done, but maybe you should skip seconds.
The best way to prevent unwanted gains is to monitor your intake. Be sure to have plenty of water to help you feel satiated. And opt for more of the healthy stuff like lean meats and veggies if you must go for round two.
Don’t Starve Yourself
Over the holidays, it’s common to bank your calories all day long in anticipation of a fulfilling dinner.
It makes sense.
If you eat less in the first part of the day, you’ll be able to indulge a little more when it really matters.
However, this is flawed logic. When you go into dinner starving, you’re almost guaranteed to overeat.
If you go crazy during your one big meal, you’ll easily surpass your recommended daily caloric intake in one sitting. That’s bad news for your waistline.
Instead, opt for proportionate meals during the days, and think of some excellent and tasty healthy dinner ideas for the night!
This is actually a good news for everyone who is having a hard time struggling with their hedonistic habits during winter but still wants to eat healthier and look better.
Namely, meat is one of the most important sources of protein out there and even the birds know it. On the other hand, there are literally thousands of recipes that can help you prepare healthy yet tasty meals from which you will get all the proteins you need.
Fun fact: meat is one of the most important ingredients for building muscle.
Learn More: Healthy Eating 101
Some Carbs Are Allowed Too
Nowadays, we are basically bombarded with a fact that whole grains, fruits, and veggies are awesome and this is 100% true.
We are, however, aware that some of the fruits and vegetables aren’t exactly the best during winter – simply because it’s not their natural ripening season – but there are still some fresh wintry veggies such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, leafy greens, artichokes, cauliflower, broccoli, celery root, cabbage, fennel, pumpkin, winter squash and root veggies like carrots that you can easily acquire and prepare during the holiday season.
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Feed Your Sweet Tooth
It might seem counter-intuitive to advocate desserts for guys who are trying to stay slim and trim over the holidays.
However, this isn’t an excuse to have a free-for-all. Making a concentrated effort to avoid all sweets during the holidays will result in the same problem as reserving all your calories for one meal.
When you finally get your hands on that cupcake, one won’t be enough.
In fact, five probably won’t be enough. Instead of painfully abstaining, have one here and there. You can enjoy yourself; just keep it under control.
Don’t Skip On All Fats
Our cardiovascular system is particularly vulnerable during holidays, all thanks to high intakes of a deep fried food and alcohol.
This means that you should rather reach out for ingredients that are the source of omega 3 fatty acids that are crucial for a balanced diet yet are satiating enough to curb your cravings for calorie-rich foods.
Fish lovers will be happy to hear that certain types of fish such as tuna, salmon and lake trout are rich with these, but you can also find it in other foods like olive oil, avocados, and nuts, for instance, meaning that you actually have a lot of potential material for a holiday winter meal that will keep you full and happy.
Read Also: Healthy Fats for the Keto Diet
Don’t Take Home the Extras
Different families might celebrate the holidays with different traditions, but one thing they all seem to have in common is an abundance of food.
There will always be leftovers. And your granny or your aunt will want you to take some.
As tempting as it is, you have to say no. If you take all that delicious food home with you, the battle of the bulge keeps going long after you’ve left the big holiday dinner. Once the celebration’s over, it’s best to get back to your normal diet.
Reduce the Bubbles
This holiday, pick and choose your battles.
If you want to go heavy on your favorite casseroles and desserts, pick healthy drinks.
Soda puts you at risk for weight gain year-round (not just during the holidays), but it adds fuel to the fire when you factor in a calorie-rich diet that you don’t normally eat.
Drink more water and natural fruit juices to balance things out.
Make Your Plate Colorful
Make a concerted effort to get some salad on every holiday plate.
Greens are water-rich foods which can help with your water intake when your favorite spring water is out of reach. Just be sure to go light on the dressing and croutons. Get some vegetables in the mix.
Like everyone else, you want to let your hair down, so to speak, and enjoy all the goodies that Christmas and New Year’s have to offer. But if your weight and level of fitness are important to you, it’ll take a little extra effort on your part to consume in moderation.
Try to balance the fun and the healthy. You’ll enjoy this special time without paying the price.
Concluding Thoughts – Nutrition Tips for the Winter Holiday Season
What are your experiences with winter nutrition so far? We’d really love to hear from your in the comments below!
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