We all know how packed the gym can be after the new year and it’s no coincidence since most people tend to overindulge throughout the holiday season. Here are 6 quick tips to help you stay healthy this Christmas and keep working towards your health and fitness goals.

1. Be Realistic

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s not the best time for anyone to swear off carbs, in fact it’s never a good time to say you will never eat carbs again because for most people that isn’t realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure by saying you won’t eat that slice of pie, or those garlic mashed potatoes your aunt is famous for, but rather pick and choose what you eat a little more consciously. If there is bread, potatoes and stuffing during your many meals, opt to only pick one of the starchy carbs rather than all three. If you love having a piece of pie after your meal, don’t deny yourself the pleasure, but skip the sugar filled cranberry sauce with your meal and have the pie instead. If you deny yourself cravings, you might end up overindulging later, so treat yourself but don’t go overboard.

2. Eat before the party

Never show up to a party so famished that you are pushing your way through the door to get to the hors d’oeuvre table. To stop yourself from filling up on those bite sized, calorie filled snacks, eat a small healthy meal with a balanced portion of healthy proteins, vegetables and fats to keep you satisfied before dinner.

3. Slow down at dinner

It’s very common to overeat during the holidays when there is such an abundance of food and everything looks so tempting, but you will thank yourself later if instead of shoveling food in your mouth, you slow it down and don’t forget to breath! Put your fork down between bites and sip water. Take in the conversation around you and take the time to taste your food! Aim for at least 20 minutes per meal. Don’t immediately get up and go for seconds either. It takes about twenty minutes for the brain to send out signals of satiety, so give your body time to recognize that it’s full and you won’t want to eat the seconds! Don’t worry about being the last one to finish either, you will be the only one not slumped over the couch afterwards!

4. Eat until 80% full

We all have those uncles who scarf down two to three helpings of dinner and throw themselves on the couch, loosen their pants and “rest their eyes” until dessert is served. You don’t want to be those guys! Instead you want to feel satisfied after you eat and not feel bloated and as if you just gained 10 lbs in one sitting. Rather than eating until you can’t eat any more, eat until you are no longer hungry. Don’t push yourself to finish your plate. Listen to your body and stop when you are about 80% full. Your body will thank you later!

5. Bring your own dish!

The holiday season can be the perfect time for potlucks, but that means dishes can be full of carbohydrate dense pastry, unhealthy fatty foods and high sugar desserts. To keep you satisfied but not worried about having to eat what others bring, opt to bring a healthier dish that you can enjoy. Homemade hummus with vegetables, black bean brownies for dessert, grilled shrimp and veggie skewers. The list is endless. You will be happy and the party guests will be asking you for the recipe!

6. Take it easy on the cocktails

Along with the abundance of food, comes the excess amount of alcohol that can be consumed over the holidays. Those tasty drinks are full of empty calories and will put you further from your health and fitness goals. It’s certainly not realistic to tell you to avoid alcohol all together, but you can make better choices. Instead of the candy cane martini, have a glass of wine with dinner or toast the evening with a glass of champagne (notice I said a glass, not a bottle)! BYOB parties are common so rather than bringing a large bottle of booze or the 1.5 L of wine, bring a smaller bottle so you don’t have as much available to drink. Try soda water or flat water to mix with your spirits instead of sugar filled juices.

The holiday season is a great excuse to get together with family and friends and enjoy great food and gatherings, but you don’t have to throw all of your health and fitness goals out the window. Stay focused and don’t forget to stay active and keep moving in between all of your festivities! Come back next week to read my tips on keeping fit through the holiday season and into the new year!

The Real Body Project