The holidays are always a tough time to stay consistent with a diet and reach the body composition goals you may have set. Of course a quantitative approach through specific macronutrient goals with a food log is the best approach however, not everyone is willing to do that. To help others, the following are my qualitative rules as I go through each holiday season which help me to keep from putting on loose baggage before the following season:
1) Don’t eat Bad Unless You Have to: Since holiday parties are tough enough to navigate in terms of eating, it’s important that you eat as well as possible during periods when you are not at a holiday party. A perfect example is when you are at work and a coworker brings in left-over cake from a party the previous weekend. Now of course it would be nice to have that cake but since it’s an easy temptation to avoid I typically avoid it. Later that week when you are at a holiday party it will be much tougher to avoid eating bad so don’t make the mistake of eating bad when you don’t need to.
2) Prepare For Holiday Eating Both Before and After: If you are having a holiday luncheon on a particular day where you know there will be high fat content foods and you will be eating them, make sure you prepare for it by eating a low fat menu that morning and afternoon. That is, if you typically have nuts in the morning on a normal day for healthy essential fatty acids, consider deleting those nuts on the holiday luncheon morning to balance out the total fat content. Same goes for the afternoon of the holiday luncheon day. Of course you have replaced essential fatty acids with low quality saturated fats but hopefully the replacement helps offset the total amount of fat consumed that day.
3) Plan Within Workout Windows: When possible, try to plan your workouts to fit within periods either prior to larger eating occasions or just after. This will help use the additional calories consumed to either fuel a workout or recover from a workout instead of adding additional body fat while being inactive.
4) Eat Protein When Possible At Parties: Choose high protein foods over high carbohydrate foods whenever possible at party environments. In most cases at holiday parties, both of these will be accompanied by high fat content however, the higher protein items will dilute your body’s blood sugar response relative to the higher carbohydrate items and therefore potentially reduce the amount of body fat gained.
Eating to avoid adding body fat during the holidays really isn’t too difficult if you think logically and show a bit of restraint during periods when it’s easier to do that. I hope these tips help. Happy holidays!