Year after year, it’s challenging to stay healthy during the holidays. Holidays tend to derail the best of diets.
Halloween candy, Thanksgiving binge-eating, New Year’s Eve champagne, Saint Patrick’s Day beers.
These six strategies will help you avoid weight gain, overeating, and inactivity during the holidays.
how to stay healthy during holidays
Outside of the seasonal food, there is social normalcy to overeat and drink on many holidays.
While surrounded by temptation, there are still simple strategies to enjoy the holiday to the fullest while still maintaining weight loss.
In this article, we’ll share our six best (and simplest) strategies to stay healthy during the holidays.
Don’t worry, while we are health nuts, we never deprive ourselves of anything that brings us joy. And, to be clear, there are tons of somewhat unhealthy foods and drinks that bring us joy.
As always, it’s all about balance.
How to Stay Healthy during the Holidays
These easy tips will help you stay active, avoid overeating, and maintain your weight loss goals during the holidays.
What’s more, is they’re not just tips. We’ll tell you how to implement these six strategies as well.
1. Counter Feasting with Intermittent Fasting
Feasting is part of the way we celebrate many modern-day holidays, from Thanksgiving to Chinese New Year. But, it’s never necessary, nor healthy, to eat until you feel like exploding.
In fact, your stomach is designed to hold about 1-1.5 liters of food before the urge to throw up kicks in.
Still, it’s hard not to feast when there are mounds of delicious, home-cooked food served up. One way to combat this is by setting up limited feeding times.
Intermittent fasting is a very simple way to avoid overeating during the holidays.
While the word “fasting” sounds extreme, everyone has a natural pattern of eating and not eating (aka when you sleep). The goal of intermittent fasting isn’t to change what you eat, but when you eat it.
Still, you eat the same amount of food but in a smaller time frame each day. With longer periods between meals, your body can process glucose and move on to burning fat.
There are also lots of studies showing that intermittent fasting boosts energy, resets hormone levels, and even promotes longevity.
How To Do It:
Following intermittent fasting will help you control your eating so you can stay healthy during the holidays.
The most common fasting protocol is 16/8. Meaning, food is consumed in an 8-hour window followed by a 16-hour fasting window. We believe this is the most sustainable plan.
Since we left our corporate jobs, we sleep around 9-hours a day, wake up, work out, eat breakfast around 11 AM, and finish dinner around 7 PM.
The transition to this IF schedule was challenging but very worth it. Start by easing into a tighter eating window and do your best to be consistent. It doesn’t have to be strict.
2. Eliminate Decision Fatigue
Have you ever been told that you can accomplish anything with enough self-control? Later, if you fail, do you question if you have weak will-power?
Grabbing for a bag of chips after a long day of disciplined eating isn’t necessarily low will-power. Instead, it could be decision fatigue.
On an average day, you typically make 35,000 decisions. Just like finishing up a workout and feeling physical fatigue, your brain gets tired throughout the day as there is only a finite amount of mental energy to spare.
Once that mental energy is gone, your decision-making ability plummets. This threat is why Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg wear the same outfit every day. One less decision to make.
Decision fatigue is especially impactful on making healthy eating choices. When it strikes, making healthy choices becomes exceedingly difficult.
The secret to making healthy decisions when fatigued is making the decision easy. Here’s our solution.
How To Do It:
Every day, especially during the holidays, it’s critical to eat at least on healthy meal. And when it comes to planning meals, none of us are perfect. There is always going to be something out of our control.
For us, our guaranteed healthy meal is quality meal replacement shake. We have evaluated the top shakes on the market, and Shakeology has been our leader for years.
Shakeology is the one meal that provides essential nutrients and is one less thing to expend our mental energy. We get natural, whole food nutrition that contains adaptogens, pre- and probiotics, antioxidants, and all nine essential amino acids (yes, even in the vegan versions).
So, even if the rest of the day went sideways we know we got nutrients for a day’s worth of vegetables already with our Shakeology.
It also gives us the freedom to cook a dinner we want without worrying if we’ve covered the whole rainbow of phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables that day. A 2009 study showed that 80% of Americans fall short in every category of phytonutrients.
2. Leave the Leftovers
We grew up programmed to finish our plates and keep every smallest amount as leftovers.
Yet, this can backfire over the holidays. If hosting, leave out doggy bags and encourage all guests to take as much food home with them as possible.
If all else fails and you find a week’s worth of unhealthy food in your refrigerator, bring the rest to your office, or, throw it out — Yup, straight into the trash.
We hate wasting food too but do your body a favor and don’t consume the leftover supermarket sugar cookies or that Velveeta casserole buttered-up under Ritz crackers.
3. Water First and Veggies Second
We take this tip for staying healthy during holidays from Registered Dietician Nutritionist, Ilana Muhlstein. Her nutrition program recommends that you eat following this cycle:
- Finish your first plate of food
- Before going for your second, take some time to drink water first
- After that, load your plate with the next round of veggies
- Still hungry? Then progress to your proteins and carbohydrates.
Repeating this cycle will help make sure you’re filling up on quality vegetables and water before going over the top with extra calories.
Additionally, hydration is critical to staying healthy during the holidays, especially since you might be drinking more alcohol. If you’re drinking, water helps lessen your hangover and get a better night’s sleep.
Up for a fun challenge? Check out our experiment below to learn about the benefits of drinking a gallon of water a day.
4. 10-Minute Workouts are Better than None
It’s essential to keep moving to stay healthy over the holidays. Even if your whole workout calendar derails with holiday travel, get 10-minutes of exercise each day.
It will make you feel better, and we all have 10 minutes between meals and family festivities.
If a workout doesn’t look to be in the cards, stay on your feet and try walking more to lose weight. Just avoid lounging on the couch!
5. First and Foremost, Enjoy the Holiday
To stay healthy over the holidays, it’s critical that you enjoy the holiday. Holidays are a time to relax, destress, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy much-needed sleep.
Be realistic about any fitness and nutrition goals you set. Don’t deprive yourselves of anything you enjoy and do your best to make smart choices. Our only advice here is to remember that you’re celebrating a holiday, not the whole month.
Our best recommendation is to work hard and save up for the big day(s)! Around the new year, make sure you have a system in place to keep your New Year’s Resolutions.
Lastly, cheers! It’s the holidays. It’s healthy to enjoy a few drinks in moderation so don’t feel guilty.
CLosing thoughts on Weight Loss during the Holidays
We hope these six strategies help you maintain your weight loss goals and stay healthy during the holidays.
Please leave any questions (or ideas) about weight loss during the holidays in the comments below.
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Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
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