With Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of holiday parties and events. When you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight and make progress towards your health goals, it might seem as if the entire world is against you at this time of the year. There’s chocolate, champagne, and cookies at every turn, and there seems to be a new excuse to indulge in your favorite treats every single evening.
But if you want to start 2018 as the best version of yourself, you’re probably trying to resist temptation and keep your eating habits balanced.
So, for those of us that want to start the new year without feeling bloated, frustrated, and extra snug in our jeans, here are nine simple food swaps to help us stay on track during the final festivities of 2017.
SKIP THE COFFEE
We love our java as much as the next person, but we also know that overloading on caffeine increases anxiety, messes with our sleep quality, and contributes to dehydration. And, if you like a splash of cream and a teaspoon of sugar in every cup (or, if you’re a sucker for Starbucks holiday lattes), you’re also consuming extra dairy and sugar along with every cup o’ joe.
So, limit yourself to one cup of black coffee each morning, and stick to tea, sparkling water, and plain ol’ H20. And, if you’re feeling fancy? Try making a turmeric latte by blending warm almond milk, a dash of ground turmeric, a teaspoon of coconut oil, and a teaspoon of honey.
SKIP THE LEFTOVER COOKIES
It’s totally okay to enjoy your favorite dessert at your aunt’s holiday gathering. And we’re totally in favor of you splitting dessert with your partner at that fancy New Year’s night out. But the leftover store-bought cookies that Susan brought into the office? Or the box of off-brand chocolate that your kid brought home from school? Take a pass. Indulge in your all-time favorite treats this year, but skip anything that’s less than the best. Your body will thank you.
SKIP THE NIGHTCAP
Reaching for one last glass of wine to finish off the night? Pour yourself a glass of water instead. Late-night drinking will keep you from sleeping well, dehydrate your body, and put strain on your liver—which might already be working overtime this holiday season. Also, if you wake up the next morning a tad bit hungover, you’re less likely to make healthy decisions...which starts an unfortunate chain reaction. So, enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, if you can enjoy it safely, and then stick to water for the rest of the night.
SKIP THE MORNING CARB-LOAD
The holiday season often seems like the perfect excuse to bring back your favorite processed, sugary, grain-filled breakfast. Maybe for you it’s cinnamon rolls, or donuts, or Grandma’s famous coffee cake.
As tempting as those fresh-out-of-the oven baked goods can be, we recommend starting the day with a full serving of protein and healthy fats, in order to give your body the nutrition it needs while also maintaining balanced blood sugar levels. If you’re still hungry after a veggie omelette or a loaded protein shake, then give yourself permission to enjoy half a cinnamon roll, guilt-free.
SKIP THE CHEESE PLATE
If you’re at a holiday gathering or dinner party, you’re probably about to enjoy a pretty delicious, indulgent, and heavy meal. So, practice damage control by staying away from high-calorie appetizers, like cheese plates, breadsticks, or creamy dips. When you’re chatting with friends and eating while standing up, it’s easy for your brain to switch into “mindless snacking mode,” and, before you know it, you’ve consumed way more baked brie than you planned to. Instead, enjoy lighter appetizers if they’re available—look for crudites, olives, nuts, or fruit.
Most importantly, remember to enjoy this season for what it is. It’s not about food, and it’s certainly not about restricting yourself to stay healthy—it’s about rest, relaxation, and spending time with the people you love.