The holidays are here! This year, don't let that second (or third!) helping of macaroni derail your healthy habits or pack on unwanted pounds. Simone Rattigan, a certified health coach and author of The Elite Entrepreneur's Guide to Health, shares how to snack smart when holiday stress is high and indulge in seasonal treats without the guilt.
The best time to prepare your game plan for the holidays is before the holiday season starts. By the time you're sitting in front of mama's savory candied yams, it's too late! Go into the holiday season prepared to indulge, but brace yourself to not overdo it. "I teach my clients to come from a place of mindful eating so that before the food is even in front of them, they know they're going to have to make really good choices to prepare themselves ahead of time," explains Rattigan.
Aim to fill half of your plate up with vegetables on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, advises Rattigan. Collard greens, green beans, roasted butternut squash and salad are traditional holiday dishes that are guilt-free. The other half of your plate is reserved for you to indulge! "This way you get to sample everything as long as half of your plate is the healthy stuff. It’s one day, so just be mindfulm, but still enjoy your favorite comfort foods," says Rattigan.
If your loved ones encourage you to take a to-go plate, politely decline so that you can get back to your healthy eating once you get home. If you do decide to pack a Tupperware container with leftovers, the half-and-half rule still applies: pack half of your plate with vegetables and the other half with lean cuts of turkey and a small single serving of your splurge items.
The holidays only roll around once a year, so if you have one too many gingerbread cookies, it doesn't mean you're a failure. Try to reframe your thoughts so that you don't feel guilty about a splurge here and there, and be sure to get back on track with the very next meal. "Tell yourself that it's okay to give in to your desires and I'll do better tomorrow, but do not beat yourself up about it," says Rattigan.
Don't underestimate the calories that are packed in your favorite holiday drinks. A large White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks can contain as many as 620 calories, while on average, most lattes contain around 400 calories. If you'd like to enjoy holiday drinks, make them at home yourself using organic almond milk and fat-free whipped cream and drink out of a standard 12-oz mug.
There are tons of sneaky ways to add exercise into your holiday plans. Head to the ice skating rink for a family fun night or sign up for a skiing lesson. You can also take advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals at your local gym to purchase fitness classes for a steal. Another low-cost option: YouTube! "If I know I’m going to be indulging during the holidays I turn on YouTube, find my favorite fitness expert, and work out from the comfort of my home," says Rattigan.
When kids come home from school with holiday candy and treats, it's tempting for mama to start nibbling on those extra calories, too. Encourage your children to make healthy choices this holiday by packing their lunches with a few additional healthy snacks and by looking for alternatives to baked treats. "If you’re going to make cookies or sweets, look into vegan options. Baked goods don't all have to be full of sugar, oil, grease, and flour. There are so many healthy options available. You don’t have to deprive yourself of sweet things when you’re craving them or presenting them to your kid’s class," advises Rattigan.
Holiday shopping can be exhausting, and doing so on an empty stomach can lead to binge eating at the mall. Before you leave home, toss your favorite snacks into your handbag. Raw nuts, healthy snack bars and a bottle of water are great to have on hand while at the mall. "I usually have trail mix in my purse or car so I am not tempted to stop at the food court," says Rattigan. "If I am tempted, at least I have a separate option that I have control over so I’m not spending money on something that’s not going to nourish my body."
January 1st will be here before you know it, so if you typically struggle to stay on track during the holidays, this year, start planning your 2015 goals a little early. Don't wait until December 31st to toss out the junk food and leftover pumpkin pie or start an exercise routine. Do it now! "Take baby steps instead of one giant step on New Year's Day. It's important to do the prep work before you take a huge step," says Rattigan.
Simone Rattigan is a certified health and life coach and author of The Elite Entrepreneur's Guide to Health: More Success, Less Stress. Her specialty is helping business owners take charge of their health through her online health and training programs. You can connect with Simone via her website, Facebook page or YouTube channel.