Do holidays excite you or stress you out? Perhaps they do a little bit of both! This time of year can be a joyous time with lots of family gatherings, time off from work and social events. However, with that, usually comes excessive amounts of eating, drinking and partying. This typical combination can leave people feeling super stressed or just awful as soon as the new year commences. Whether you revel in winter holidays, or dread it, it’s important to take care of yourself and try to stay as healthy as possible. How do you do that? By making sure you follow my tried-and-tested RULE OF 3. Follow these specific strategies and behaviors so that by 2020, you’ll be well on your way to fulfilling all your health-related New Year resolutions.
Eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day.
In order to prevent crashes in blood sugars, energy or mood, ensure that you don’t go longer then about 3-4 hours without a meal or balanced snack. Avoid skipping meals during the day in anticipation for a bigger dinner or party you’re having that night. This is a classic mistake that will most likely result in eating more when you finally get to the event, party or dinner.
Quick tip: If you struggle to remember to eat, especially during these busy holiday months, or maybe the opposite, feel like you’re constantly picking or grazing, set an alarm in your phone to notify you when it’s time to refuel. Listen to hunger and fullness cues above all else.
Include the 3 most important nutrients for energy, and satiety at each meal or snack.
This winning combo will ensure adequate nutrient intake, but also ideal fuel for long-lasting energy and appetite control.
white meat poultry, any fish or seafood, tofu, and light cheese or Greek Yogurt are packed with lean protein. Protein powders can also be used as replacements when you’re strapped for time or have limited options. Protein rich foods contain the best source of amino acids, immune-protecting zinc, and energizing B-vitamins, as well as blood pumping iron. All of which are crucial to keep yourself as healthy as possible.
The best sources are whole grains like quinoa or oats, as well as most fruits and vegetables. Carbs are not the enemy. Eating excessive amounts of refined or high sugar carbs can be! Instead opt for high fiber carbs that get broken down more slowly in your GI tract, thus promoting stable blood sugars and feeling full for hours without overindulging. Skipping or skimping on carbs might make you crave more later, or at least feel fatigue or low energy. You’ll need all the energy you can get to get through this busy, demanding holiday season.
Examples are nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and fatty fish. Fats don’t make you fat. In fact, its quite the contrary. Healthy fats help with staying power and can fight off inflammation and hormones that store excess abdominal fat. They also aid in nutrient absorption which will ensure you get the most nutrients you can for optimal health and well-being.
Here is a sample daily plan that incorporates all 3 nutrients:
Breakfast: Greek Yogurt + Pomegranate seeds + Chopped pecans
Lunch: Chickpea Pasta + Chopped Cucumber + Chopped Tomato + Chopped Red Onion + Chicken Breast + Goat Cheese
Snack: Sliced Apples + Almond Butter
Dinner: Roast Salmon + Broccoli + Quinoa + Olive Oil
Drink up to 3 liters, or 90 ounces, of water per day.
Stick with zero-calorie beverages like plain water (infused with lemon or lime), sparkling or club soda, and unsweetened teas. Avoid beverages that are sweetened, or have added sugars, such as specific types of sodas, juices, smoothies or coffee drinks. Save your calories for chewing as our bodies don’t feel as full when calories/nutrients come in liquid form.
Quick Tip: Always have a BPA-free water bottle on hand and aim to gulp down about 6-8 oz before every meal/snack. It helps with nutrient absorption, energy and preventing over-eating. The best way to figure out how many ounces of water you need daily, take your weight in pounds and divide by 2. If you’re 160 pounds, that’s 80 ounces. Add in an additional 16-24 ounces for every 1 hour of moderate to intense, exercise you do.
Follow the 3-bite rule if a craving strikes.
Don’t deprive yourself or fight off the urge to indulge occasionally, especially this time of year, when yummy foods are all around us. If you have a craving for something sweet, or savory, don’t ignore it. This can lead to eating more, or possibly even binge-eating, later. The 3-bite rule allows 3 medium-sized bites. The first and last bite are always the best, so you just need 1 in the middle.
Quick Tip: You can even give yourself permission to look forward to 1 treat per day, if portions are sensible and it fits this model. It will make you feel more satisfied overall, and help you stay on track the rest of the day and week.
Aim for 3 days per week of exercise.
You don’t need to spend hours in the gym daily or weekly to reap all the benefits. Consistent moderate exercise can help you relieve harmful stress, feel energized and help keep body fat down while also promoting healthy heart and other organs. As the temperature drops so does our exposure to sunlight and this can affect mood. Exercise is an excellent way to prevent seasonal drops in mood and/or energy.
Quick Tip: Pick whatever time of day you have the most energy and time to do it. Find something physical you enjoy doing such as dancing, running, spinning, Zumba or even just playing with your kids at the park.
Cook at home about 3 times per week.
You don’t need to cook every single day to enjoy homemade meals. If you double, or even triple-up, on recipes you should have enough left over for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinners throughout the week. That way you can also limit eating out to about 3 times per week as well!
Quick tip: If you’re schedule is super busy right now with deadlines, and holiday events, designate even just 1 day per week to meal prep or cook for the week. If that still feels like a difficult task, consider meal delivery, or meal kit services that make eating at home much more feasible.
If you do eat out, order 3 appetizers instead of an entree.
Eating out can be a regular occurrence between Thanksgiving and New Years. You don’t have to say no to plans with friends, coworkers and family to stay health. Just try to order smart, light and healthy. Instead of a big entrée, consider 3 appetizers. They are not only smaller, but you’ll much more variety and balance, without feeling deprived or hungry. Pick 1 vegetable dish like a salad or non-dairy soup, 1 protein option such as tuna tartare, chicken satay, grilled calamari, or shrimp cocktail and 1 slightly more decadent choice to give you something to look forward to.
Quick Tip: Make sure to drink plenty of water when eating out. Try and eat slowly and be in the moment. Focus on the conversations happening around you and in front of you.
Here are some healthier alternatives to typical holiday party staples:
Spiked Egg Nog – 250 calories/glass
Champagne – 100 calories/glass
Chips – 300 calories per cup
Crudite – 25 calories perc up
Hot Chocolate – 200 cal per cup
Chai Tea Bag – 0 calories
Martini – 300 calories per glass
Wine – 100 cal per glass