No holiday celebration is complete without gorging on holiday staples like eat-inducing turkey, greasy sandwiches, mashed potatoes, and deliciously rich desserts.
While a little indulgence here and there is really good for you, the problem is when that festive splurge of food turns into a real
gastronomic onslaught in the five-week span between Thanksgiving and New Years.
When it comes to eating, the “free for all” approach, where you mindlessly binge for long periods of time, is just as bad as the “all or nothing” approach to eating that leaves you feeling deprived in the long run. says New York. Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, Etosha Farmer.
“This overindulgence, in the short term, can lead to digestive upset, fatigue, increased cravings, and feelings of guilt or shame,” says Miranda Galati, registered dietitian and founder of Real Life Nutritionist. Plus, “it can promote inflammation and brain fog by derailing your metabolism,” says Haylie Pomroy, famous nutritionist and author of Cooking to speed up your metabolism.
The key here is to be mindful of your food choices and to enjoy moderation. “Even something like your favorite candy can turn into a healthy, balanced diet,” says Emilie Berry, a registered dietitian from Louisiana. “My general rule of thumb is that when you go out to eat or a meeting, choose one thing to ‘splurge’ and try to make healthy choices around that,” explains the nutritionist. Bottom line: treating yourself to a scoop of ice cream or a slice of cake is absolutely fine. Eating your weight in cookies and candy, however, is not.
How to restart your diet after the holidays
Here are ten nutritionist-approved, simple tips to help you get your diet back after too much vacation:
- Stay away from cleanses and detoxes. “A lot of people feel like they need to go to extremes to ‘fix’ what they ate on vacation. But strict diets are not sustainable and are rarely healthy,” says Berry. “Going to any extreme will only make your relationship with food worse in the long run,” agrees Galati. A better approach is to get back to your normal routine and improve your health from there, Berry suggests.
- Skip resolutions. “Instead of a resolution, set a fun 90-day health goal,” Berry suggests. For example, do two to four runs a week, eat more home-cooked meals, or meditate daily. “This approach gives you a target that comes up fast enough that you can stick with it,” he explains.
- Fill up on protein and fiber. “Prioritize protein, fiber, and healthy fats as you go back to preparing balanced meals,” says Galati. Aim to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day by increasing your intake of foods such as lentils, beans, green leafy vegetables and whole grains, suggests Farmer.
- Don’t go suddenly. “Put some of your favorite Christmas treats in the freezer so you can enjoy them after the festivities are over,” Galati suggests. “The objective is to find the balance every day to avoid excesses when the next holiday arrives,” says the dietician.
- Increase your water intake. “Drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day,” recommends Farmer. Staying properly hydrated will help your body properly metabolize carbohydrates and eliminate excess sodium, which will reduce belly bloat. If you want to upgrade to regular H2O, here are some quick and easy water infuse recipes to try.
- Don’t skip breakfast. “Always eat within 30 minutes of waking up,” advises Pomroy. “Eating within 30 minutes of waking up and having three meals and two snacks a day will help prevent overindulging later,” he notes. Here are some quick breakfast recipes that require minimal culinary skills.
- Smart snack. “If you’re going to enjoy sugary treats, a surprising way to combat fat storage is to add fat,” says Pomroy. “Combine sugar with healthy fat sources, like raw nuts, seeds and seed butters or a quarter of an avocado,” he suggests. And if you’re having something like ice cream, choose a whole option rather than a fat-free or low-fat option, adds Pomroy. “Fat slows down the rate of sugar supply, so your blood sugar will not rise and your body will be less likely to store that sugar as fat,” explains the nutrition professional.
- Eat whole foods. “Focus on whole foods in their natural form,” says Farmer. “Limiting processed foods, which contain high amounts of sodium, sugar and unhealthy fats, in general, can quickly help you improve your diet and get you back on track,” explains the healthy eating expert. Try to eat at least one fruit and two different vegetables every day, suggests Farmer.
- Double consumption of vegetables. “I recommend radishes, celery, cucumber, and bell peppers. They are all packed with fiber, which will help you burn away any junk that may have come over the holidays,” says Pomroy. “They also have thermogenic phytonutrients, meaning they not only help you burn junk, but also burn historic fat (the fat you’ve been carrying for a long time),” he adds.
- Move. “Enjoy low-intensity movement, like walking, to get your digestion moving again,” says Galati. Other low intensity workouts to consider include yoga, swimming, and tai chi.
Happy New Year!