The holiday season is synonymous with indulgence—or, unfortunately in many cases, over-indulgence.
While over-indulgence may seem like a necessary component to a festive holiday season, it can also lead to feelings of sluggishness, skin blemishes, gastrointestinal issues and, of course, weight gain.
The good news is that with a few simple tricks and tips, you can get through the holidays without feeling like you’ve missed out on anything, and without gaining weight.
How To Avoid Packing On The Pounds During The Holidays
1. Start smart with a cleanse
Now that Thanksgiving is over, get back on track by starting the week with a mini cleanse. Because it’s not as late in the month, the holiday parties and cookie swaps will likely not have started, making this an easier goal.
Related: 5 Ways To Stick To Your Goals
For two or three days, make a promise to yourself to avoid any processed foods, excess sugars, and alcohol. Cook with the freshest ingredients, paying particular attention to fresh organic whole foods.
If you find resisting temptation to be particularly difficult, opt instead for a juice cleanse where the order and portions are set out for you each day. By the end of the third day, you will be feeling and looking great, offering motivation to keep on track throughout the rest of the month!
2. Seek support
Seek out a friend, family member or partner/spouse to have a healthy holiday with you. The buddy system provides a level of support that makes sticking to goals easier.
When you’re feeling the urge to eat half a Christmas pie or whip up a batch of calorie-laden eggnog, pick up the phone instead. More likely than not, your friend will talk you out of it, and the two of you can come up with a healthy activity like spinning or going for a walk instead.
Related: 10 Ways To Have A Healthy Holiday Season (And Still Enjoy A Cookie Or Two)
Additionally, having somebody to support you through your goals will make you feel less alone. Get together and cook healthy meals, bake some organic and vegan holiday cookies for your family members, and walk through the neighborhood to see the decorations.
There are plenty of activities that you can do to celebrate the season that don’t involve excessive food and drink consumption (and the processed food calories that go with it!).
3. Utilize simple food substitutions
Look for some simple swaps. When it’s cold out, the tendency is to stockpile on high carb and fat foods like pizza and spaghetti, which will certainly make gaining weight more likely.
Unfortunately, eating these refined carbs will slow you down, so for ultimate comfort food that won’t cause you to be sleepy or lethargic afterwards, try switching to quinoa or gluten-free pasta. Also, look for gluten-free or organic whole-wheat pizza dough instead of the traditional white flour variety.
Related: The Dangers Of Gluten And Why You Need To Stop Eating It
One of my favorite substitutes for pasta is kelp noodles, noodles that are literally from the sea and naturally gluten-free.
Another good option? Spaghetti squash or zucchini ribbons topped with your favorite sauce. The noodle-like texture will trick your brain into thinking it’s getting the carbs it craves, but from a much healthier and nutrient-rich source.
4. Plan ahead
Party smart. If you know you’re going out for a holiday event, plan ahead to ensure that you can enjoy the festivities the healthy way.
Related: 7 Ways To Get Healthy After The Holidays
First, try to start your day with a green juice, lots of water, and a probiotic to keep things moving through your system properly. Before going to the event, get some exercise—either solo or with your friends.
Have a healthy lunch or a snack before that is going to keep you full. A satisfying smoothie is also a good way to go, especially if you are in a rush and do not have time to eat a full meal with all the holiday shopping and other errands. Throw in some fruit, almond butter, or protein powder and you will be good to go!
Keep a healthy snack in your purse like almonds or an organic chocolate bar, so you can munch on the go before you arrive. This curbs your appetite and ensures you do not head straight for the buffet.
If you are going to be drinking, have a glass of water or two with every drink! But remember: don’t be hard on yourself if you do over-indulge—it’s okay to treat yourself every now and then. Just don’t make it the norm!
You can get through this holiday without gaining weight. Nobody wants to be on a stringent diet or set goals that are too lofty during the holiday season, as that will only set you up for failure and leave you feeling deprived. Instead, start slow and build on healthy habits each week, ensuring that your holiday season is not only healthy, but also fun!
Alex Jay enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and shortly thereafter started her own company, Inner Beauty Health using the motto “we are what we eat.” The program catered primarily to models on a six month program designed to better their overall health and wellbeing. Working with Juice Press as a Health Coach and Nutrition Expert, Alex shares her passion with her Fashion Industry contacts and preaches clean eating with style.
Photo by N+T*