Surviving the Holiday Season: A Balanced Approach
There’s no denying that holidays are filled with special treats and feasts. Having a game plan can help you reach your health goals even during the holidays. In this email, I share my tried-and-true strategies for enjoying holiday gatherings while maintaining your health goals.
When you develop a game plan to get what you want,
you will develop a belief that you can get it.
- Zig Ziglar -
The Importance of Satiety
Satiety is that satisfied feeling you get after a meal, and it is key to weight management! Whole foods, especially those high in protein and fiber support satiety. We are going to focus on this – whole foods, protein, and fiber, but first, let’s see what’s sabotaging your satiety and possibly your weight loss goals.
The Impact of Ultra-Processed Foods
Ultra-processed foods make up 60 percent of the average person’s diet. These foods are easily accessible, super cheap, and made from low-quality ingredients that are easy to overeat. Plus, they are formulated to be highly addicting – sugary, salty, and crunchy. Even “healthy” processed foods (e.g., gluten-free, keto snacks, ice cream, cereal, and chips) are guilty too. These tasty, calorie-dense, ultra-processed foods leave us unsatisfied and wanting more.
Prioritize Whole Foods, Protein and Balance Fiber
Whole foods are the exact opposite of ultra-processed foods. Whole foods are fruits, vegetables, lean meats, milk, yogurt, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. These foods should be as close to their natural, unprocessed form as possible. Whole foods provide nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and polyphenols.
Holiday Bonus: Many homemade holiday meals feature whole foods, i.e. turkey, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts.
Focus on adequate protein first, then add in fiber-rich foods for added satiety. High-fiber foods are filling and amazing sources of vitamins and minerals. But high-fiber foods are also low in protein and calories. If high-fiber plant foods make up the bulk of your diet, you might frequently be hungry.
Focus on getting adequate protein at every meal. Eat a protein-rich and savory breakfast. Protein plays an essential role in longevity, muscle synthesis, metabolic health, and weight loss.
“Adequate” Protein: Protein is a hot topic and there is not one perfect number. In fact, the “experts” can’t even agree. Many longevity experts are recommending 1 gram of protein per pound of your ideal body weight per day. Yet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight per day.
As a dietitian, I use the RDA value as a starting point and factor in your lifestyle. Here are some factors that increase your protein needs:
- Exercising at least 3 times/week
- Exercising like an athlete
- Trying to lose fat mass and protect lean body mass
- Working to stabilize blood sugar
- Recovering from an injury or surgery
If you’d like assistance with your energy, protein, fat, and carbohydrate needs, book an appointment today.
Lastly, be mindful of the sneaky, addictive factors (salt, sugar, crunch) in ultra-processed foods. Calories from junk food add up quickly. It’s not about completely avoiding these foods but being conscious of their addictive nature.
Foods high in protein and fiber are nutrient-dense and satisfying, making us less likely to overeat. Try to incorporate more protein and fiber-rich foods into your meals this holiday season and feel the difference!
Holiday Eating Hacks
Day of a Holiday Gathering
✨ Ensure meals before (or after) the gathering are high in protein and fiber.
✨ Stay well-hydrated throughout the day.
✨ Be physical activity, whether it’s hitting the gym, going for a hike, or taking your dog for a walk.
✨ Prepare a healthy side dish, appetizer, or dessert to bring to the gathering. Check out my Healthier Pumpkin Spice Recipes
During the Holiday Gathering
✨ Enjoy the festivities!
✨ Be mindful of alcohol. Create your signature Holiday Mocktail using this guide.
✨ Eat your veggies!
✨ Be mindful of portion size especially when it comes to low glycemic carbs. Sometimes there are lots – rolls, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, dessert.
✨ Eat the foods you absolutely love and that are only available around the holidays and skip the rest.
During the Holiday Gathering
✨ Get back on track with your nutrition goals.
✨ Remember that enjoying life is important and a healthy diet and lifestyle supports this by preventing disease.
Understanding the impact of protein and fiber on satiety while making mindful food choices over the holidays can help us avoid unwanted weight gain. Over time, this approach can even improve your body composition resulting in a healthier, happier you.
For tips and tricks to managing the holidays gluten-free, check out Ten Tips for a Gluten-Free Holiday.
If you want to change your diet and lifestyle but don’t know where to begin, I invite you to book a free discovery call with a gut health nutritionist. Together, we can explore how I can help you optimize your health. Wishing you a joyful and health-filled holiday season!