Every year, we’ll be bombarded with articles talking about ways to avoid weight gain through the holidays. Unfortunately, most tips will be still be rooted in archaic nutritional principles and calorie-counting. Here are some far more sustainable ways to avoid packing on the 10-20 pounds that can be typical over the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Years!
1) Grain-free Cookies
Christmas cookies were always a huge tradition in my family. They still are! However, we no longer use all-purpose, bleached white flour or even whole-wheat flour (which can present many of the same issues). We use almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour, and others.
Using these “flours” that come from sources of fat (nuts, beans, seeds), as opposed to sources of carbs (grains), will elevate the nutritional content of your cookie, avoid gluten its accompanying inflammation, and probably help you to stay full a lot longer.
2) Sugar-free Beverages
For years now, I have been intentional about bringing liquid stevia to parties. It can be used in coffee, tea, even mixed drinks if that is your thing!
This Christmastime, offer your guests some Egg Nog or cider made without sugar. Look at soda alternatives like Zevia in place of sugary sodas or diet drinks when attending or hosting holiday parties.
In college, I would eat before going to a fancy banquet because I feared the food would be too “nice” or wouldn’t fill me up. Now, I’m careful not to expect that I will be adequately and healthfully fed if my host is not up to speed on the nutritional principles of Maximized Living. That’s why I pre-eat.
Before heading to a party, I’ll usually have half a smoothie, or a handful of protein bars, loaded with fats that will keep me full in the event the food served is non-maximized. I don’t eat so much that I won’t be able to nibble on any party food I can find that is healthy. If there’s a significant gap between the amount that I’ve eaten and what I need to get myself full, I’ll just drink a ton of water at the party. The part of your brain that identifies thirst and the part of your brain that identifies hunger are geographically close. Perhaps this is why I find that drinking more water keeps me feeling full – particularly if I’ve pre-eaten.
And I don’t hesitate to bring a couple handfuls of raw nuts along, either, to stave off hunger until I can get to some good (or at least, good for me!) food.
4) Veggies and Dip
Whether you’re hosting a party or attending, know that the stomach fills up quicker with vegetables than it does with anything else. Veggies also provide a huge nutritional value and are virtually free of calories. Because your body fills up on nutrients, not calories, loading up on “double veggies” when out for dinner, or tons of raw veggies with dip at a party, is a sure-fire way to stay more full and avoid caving in to desserts and less healthy options.
The dips we now offer in Maximized Living Nutrition Plans are amazing. If hosting, you will impress your guests with twists on hummus by introducing walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes, and with other sugar-free dips like guacamole and sunflower seed herb pate. Make use of the holidays to teach a friend your new lifestyle!
5) Maximize Your Feast
With the plethora of recipes now available within Maximized Living Nutrition Plans and on sites like this, you should have no trouble preparing a full feast without sugar, damaged fats, additives, preservatives, or grains.
Through any health food store, or directly from a farmer, you should be able to locate a free-run turkey. For traditional sides, check out the Mashed No-tatoes, and the Maximized Grainless Rolls that can be used for stuffing. You can serve up decadent Chocolate Truffles or a Classic Pumpkin Pie without sugar for dessert. There’s even an awesome vegan option for the same pie.
6) Celebrate the day, not the week.
Some people actually celebrate the entire month! You can avoid over-indulging by not keeping food in the house that you don’t need until your Thanksgiving or Christmas feast. I’ve always said, “If it’s not in the house, you won’t starve.” Be particularly diligent about this during the Holidays!
Don’t cook more than you need to. Evaluate carefully how many guests you will have at your home on a day of celebration, and prepare just enough to avoid having leftovers. That way there won’t be food hanging out in the fridge, waiting to tempt you. Don’t overdo it!
And if you’re being hosted, don’t take home the leftover pumpkin pie. I’ve said on many occasions, “It will go bad in my fridge.” If you don’t take it home, you won’t eat it, just to avoid letting it go bad!
7) Healthy Traditions
In my un-maximized childhood, our annual tradition was to make a gingerbread house (which, of course, was entirely consumed). It’s never too late to establish new traditions that foster wellbeing in your family: a Christmas Day Run, a Thanksgiving Day game of touch football, or if you’re in Canada, a Boxing Day game of hockey.
And last time I checked, my gym only closes 3 days in the entire month of December – not all 31.
Have a safe and healthy holiday!