No matter how committed people are to their goals, holidays like Labor Day can present a big setback from healthy eating plans. Tempting treats available in copious amounts often combine with the fun and socialization of eating with family and friends, leading to calorie overload. An unhealthy weekend can often result in a sense of defeat that spirals into more unhealthy choices.
Here are some easy ways to make a comeback from a Holiday food binge:
1) Let It Go: Instead of focusing on the “bad foods” consumed or admitting total defeat, enjoy the memories of a great holiday and remember that good health is not the outcome of one day, or even one week of habits, but a lifetime of choices. Forgive yourself and resolve to recommit to health.
2) Make a Course Correction: Restart after a rough holiday by making good nutrition choices. Choose a breakfast with lean protein and fiber, and be mindful of hunger cues throughout the day. Take a slow and steady approach and find ways to incorporate nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins (legumes, chicken breast, white fish, eggs), and whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat bread, quinoa, bulgur) throughout the week.
3) Get Moving: Exercise can not only burn off excess calories, but also provides an outlet to reduce stress. The build-up of stress leads to a strong desire to break from normal routines, sets up an all-or-nothing approach to healthy eating, and plays a big role in food overload during the holidays. Keep moving and try organizing a future holiday around activities, such as team sports, hiking, or bowling, that everyone can enjoy.
4) Hydrate to Satiate: Get the body back in balance by drinking plenty of water. Thirst can often lead to signals confused with hunger, so prevent excess calories consumption by drinking water throughout the day. Check out tips from the CDC on how to increase fluid intake (*hint: it’s not all from water).
5) Draft a New Game Plan: Holidays can present an excuse to step way off track from health goals. It’s important to remember that whether celebrating someone’s birthday, going to a dinner party or getting away for a national holiday, there is always an excuse to overindulge. Be proactive by identifying cues that trigger overeating and come up with a game plan to combat those. Simple ideas include: eating a balanced breakfast to start the day, choosing a smaller plate at parties and packing it with fruits, vegetable or other healthier options, reducing stress, cutting portions in half, and drinking mostly water instead of drinks laden with excess calories.
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