7 Healthful Tips to Survive Those Holiday Cravings

‘Tis the season, where temptations for sugar-filled treats are EVERYWHERE!

image via unsplash.com

While most of us do our best to avoid sugar, we can all pretty much agree that it’s tough to resist the call of gingerbread cookies and eggnog around the holidays. Studies have shown that most weight gain happens during the months of October to January, and as we get older, that extra weight is harder to lose. To help mitigate holiday weight gain, here are 7 practical tips to keep you on track so you don’t derail the hard work you put in all year:

  1. Stay hydrated—water is what your body really needs, not a Venti Caramel Macchiato (which has 42 grams of sugar!) Aim for getting half your body weight in ounces. Get a reusable water bottle (I love insulated bottles so that my water stays cold) and keep it with you all day. We often mistake thirst for hunger, so stay hydrated to keep your appetite in check.
  2. Be mindful of portion size—holiday parties and family gatherings are often centered around food and alcohol. While spending time with friends and family is great, be mindful of what and how much you are eating. On the day of the event, have a well-balanced breakfast (such as eggs sautéed with vegetables topped with diced avocado) and lunch, so that you don’t arrive famished. Balance treats with healthy choices. Moderate alcohol intake and remember to drink water.
  3. Eat well on the go—pack some healthy snacks for the car or plane if you are traveling this holiday. Some good choices: grass-fed beef jerky, fresh fruit, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, cheese sticks, peanut butter or hummus pouches with veggie sticks, a dried fruit/nut bar (such as Lara or Rx) or homemade energy balls. When dining out, decide what you will order from the menu before arriving.
  4. Exercise!—take a class with friends, hire a personal trainer, go for a hike, walk the dog, or try a yoga class. Getting some exercise, especially in the morning before life gets in the way, will do wonders for your mental and physical health. Exercise also helps balance blood sugar and is great for easing stress.
  5. Eat protein and healthy fat—these macronutrients (along with fiber in vegetables, fruit and whole grains) keep blood sugar steady and keep you feeling full longer. If you do plan to indulge in holiday treats, be sure to have some healthy fat and protein beforehand to avoid a sugar crash, which contributes to cravings.
  6. Sleep—the holiday season is busy, but it is important to prioritize sleep as best you can. Aim for 7-8 hours of good-quality sleep per night. It is harder to make healthy choices when you are exhausted, and lack of sleep interferes with appetite-regulating hormones, leading to overeating and weight gain.
  7. Try healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods—everyone can agree that cauliflower rice is not and will never be basmati, but try a few simple substitutions and find ones you can live with. I don’t miss pasta when I slather zucchini noodles with marinara and meatballs. To satisfy sweet cravings, try this recipe for 4-ingredient Chocolate Peppermint Cups:

Remember to do the best that you can while still enjoying the season. If you do overindulge, pick yourself back up and do better the next day. It’s all about balance and making good choices most of the time. I’m still going to enjoy holiday cookies and eggnog, but I will do it mindfully, savor every bite, and balance it outwith healthy meals and exercise.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Laura Hsu, Nutrition Consultant 
Almaden Valley Athletic Club®
5400 Camden Avenue | San Jose, CA 95124
(408) 596-0379 | lhsu@avac.us


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