A diet should not ruin your Christmas feast, or any other holiday meal, for that matter. In my opinion, it is simply unacceptable to have a salad and water while everyone else is enjoying themselves around the table. The trick, of course, is to be smart about your eating. Too often, when faced with a smorgasbord of choices, it is difficult to decline on anything that passes under your nose. Enjoying your holiday feast, and keeping your waistline in check is possible with a few Christmas Diet Tips.
Consider Your Calories
With a few simple tricks, you can ensure you don’t ruin your efforts. One key consideration is to look at your caloric intake as a weekly value vs. a daily value. This said, if a person’s daily value is 2,000 calories, a weekly total would be 14,000. By reducing your daily calories by a mere 100 calories in view of a 6-day-prep for ‘the big one’, you’ve created a savings account of 600 calories. That’s a decent meal! Up it to 150 calories deficit per day, and you’ve afforded an indulgence of 900 calories. Not bad.
Yeah, but how do I Track my Calories?
There are a number of great tools out there to keep you on track. My Fitness Pal is free, and my preferred tool to keep my daily calories on point. While seemingly obsessive, I look at a calorie tracker like I do a budget worksheet for your expenses. Put another way, we don’t just jump in the car and disregard how much fuel is in the tank. We mentally estimate how far we can travel based on experience, fuel put in, and by monitoring the fuel gauge. Why not apply similar principles to fuelling our bodies?
Ironically, we will spend far more time obsessing about the ‘numbers in, numbers out’ game when it comes down to Timmy’s little league fees, but too often fail when it comes to our own nutrition. We need to place our health and fitness on the top of the pyrmaid so that we can be better, live better, and give more of ourselves. If we are sick, tired, run-down and huff at the top of a flight of stairs, what do we have left to give to our kids, or our loved ones. If not for yourself, then establish good health and fitness for the sake of spending more quality time with your family.
So, track your calories. Know your macronutrient targets, and establish these goals under the ‘custom goals’ tab in My Fitness Pal. By logging consistently, it won’t be long before you have created a new routine – a new habit. By doing so, tracking will become second nature. You will know at a glance, and learn to accurately gauge 4 oz of chicken breast, or one cup of pasta. Like anything new, the challenge is establishing a habit, which many experts have touted as taking ’21’ days (this seems to be the magic number). 3 weeks of doing something consistently, and there it is – locked in – a part of you, as though it’s always been there. I don’t care if it’s flossing your teeth, starting an exercise program, quitting smoking, or walking the dog. Just do it consistently and in a short time, you will own it. For a concise walk-through on how to use My Fitness Pal, watch this video:
Okay, so you’ve been tracking, and have a good feel for your daily caloric intake. You’ve made a conscious decision in preparation of ‘the big feast’, to reduce your daily calories by 100 – 150 calories per day. This will afford you some fun and enjoy your holiday feast with the rest of your family, guilt free.
What are some other tricks to keep my abs this Christmas?
That’s a great question. Water! Stay hydrated. This should be incorporated into your daily routine regardless of any feasting that may be coming. Wake up, down 8-12 oz of water before your eyes are even open. Do this before each meal, and your stomach will be full before you even smell the bacon (low fat turkey bacon of course). You’ll fire up your metabolism, feel satiated, eat less, and keep your machine well oiled and ready for the day.
Focus on the Right Macronutrients
Protein keeps us satiated for a far longer period of time than carbohydrates. For a holiday feast go for meat (protein) first, then veggies to fill yourself up before jumping in on the potatoes, rice, pasta, stuffing, cake, pie etc. Eating in this way will limit your fat storage spillover (aka too many carbs). If you incorporate the simple calorie reduction tips above, this should give you a green light on chow day. Don’t count calories. Don’t stress. You’ve hit your workouts all year, focused on diet like a skilled professional, and now, enjoy!
Yeah, but what about Alcohol and my Diet over the Holidays?
If you’re asking, you’re probably going to be drinking. Choose wisely! Have a glass of water between each drink, and this will slow down your consumption. Also, go for low calorie beverages, i.e., low cal beer, and hard liquor with mixes such as water, soda water, tonic, or diet soda (if you must, although I avoid it like the plague). A few ounces of vodka, or rum with a clean mix is not typically the villain. High, empty calorie, sugar-laden mixes are. As well, most will indulge on whatever is lying around after a few drinks, and then hit the sack (old pizza crust, Christmas dessert). This is a recipe for disaster. Drink moderately, stay on point, don’t binge eat after your 2-3 drinks, and Bob’s your uncle.