There’s no denying it any longer: the holiday season is officially here. And you know what that means: holiday food, and lots of it. Sugary, buttery, carb-packed, delicious holiday food.
But just because the holidays are here once again doesn’t mean you have to let all your hard work this past year go to the wayside. Because if you follow these simple tips for keeping fit over the holiday season, you can avoid packing on the pounds and still enjoy some of your favorite holiday foods.
Here are 5 tricks to help you keep in shape over the holidays:
1. Work out as you normally would.
One of the worst mistakes I see people make over the holidays is that they start working out less or even resort to skipping their workouts entirely. It’s certainly no surprise that this happens—with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s all too easy to let your workout schedule get a little lax.
But prioritizing your workouts around the holidays just as you would during the rest of the year will not only help you burn some of those excess calories you’re no doubt going to be eating, it’ll also help make sure you retain all that muscle you’ve worked so hard for—meaning your metabolism will stay high, even when you have a slice of pumpkin pie (or two).
Plus, working out throughout the holidays will ensure you retain the habit and don’t have to start from scratch after the New Year.
2. Make healthy versions of your favorite food.
Another way to get through the holidays without feeling too deprived is to make a healthier version of your favorite holiday foods.
This allows you to eat foods similar to ones you’d normally eat over the holidays without deviating from your diet at all. And while they may not be exactly the same as the fattier, sugar-packed versions of holiday foods that you’re used to, you may even learn to like the healthier versions better since you’ll feel better (and less guilty) after eating them.
You can find all sorts of healthy holiday recipes all over the internet—or you can make your own. Just get creative, and you’ll be amazed at what you can create that’s tasty and healthy.
3. Don’t fast.
Another huge mistake I see people making around the holidays is that when they know they have a big holiday meal ahead, they’ll skip their normal meals and “save” their calories for later in an attempt not to overeat. But the issue with this tactic is that more often than not it actually backfires.
Since your body is already hungry from not eating meals as you regularly would, fasting before a big meal means you’ll probably end up gorging yourself on unhealthy stuff, ending up eating more calories than you would have if you’d eaten regularly first and thenhad a cookie or two.
4. Eat only your favorite foods.
Although the holidays are filled with treats, when you think about it, there are probably only a select few that you really, really love.
So rather than filling up on every store-bought cookie and plate of mediocre mashed potatoes offered to you, save your calories for the things you just absolutely love. Holding out for the really good stuff will not only help you feel less deprived overall, it’ll actually make it so that you enjoy your treats even more.
5. Fill up on veggies and protein.
If you know you’re going to a holiday party where there’s bound be lots of sweets and not much in terms of healthy food, make sure to fill up on protein and veggies beforehand.
Since both protein and vegetables not only help fill you up faster, but also make sure you stay full, eating this way beforehand will help to make sure you don’t overindulge on sweets and holiday staples just because you were hungry or didn’t eat enough earlier and felt “snacky.”
And remember—the holidays only come once a year, so don’t try and deprive yourself completely of all the holiday foods and traditions you love. It is the holidays after all!