TBH, staying healthy during the holidays sounds like a bit of an oxymoron. It seems like the second the season hits, there's a constant influx of cookies, cakes, mashed potatoes, and wine, and it's enough to make even the most diligent healthy eater give in to temptation. "Indulging a little is A-OK. It's when it happens often where the trouble begins," Daily Harvest’s nutritionist, Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, says. That is, a month of subsisting on predominantly refined carbs and champagne is not good and can derail all the hard work you've put in the rest of the year.
"With parties, family dinners, leftovers, office treats, holiday gifts, there is food everywhere and usually not the healthy kind. At some point, people just say, 'I'll start January 1,' and start picking and enjoying whatever is around. Simply put, it’s too much, too often," Shapiro says. But it doesn't have to be this way.
Here, she gives us her healthy holiday tips.
Be Prepared With Healthy Foods
It's basically a given that you're going to be surrounded by treats for most of the month, so stocking your fridge with easy, healthy options to grab is a necessity. "Meal prep, or if you are too busy to cook, have healthy options on hand that you can grab instead of reaching for unhealthy meals or ordering in on a night you don’t have to," Shapiro says. "I like to keep Daily Harvest on hand in my freezer for this. It won’t go bad when I have a last-minute plan, and it is there for me when I need a healthy meal in a pinch."
Don't Arrive Hungry
"Do not save your calories for a big night out," Shapiro says. "If you do this, it will backfire on you and you'll end your night feeling bloated and full." She recommends eating a small, healthy snack prior to your event or dinner. That way you won't be starving and will be more likely to make good food decisions.
Clean Up Your Drinks
"Sure, wine has antioxidants, but a five-ounce serving (no, not the eight ounces you are serving yourself) contains 120 calories," Shapiro says. By contrast, vodka has about 90 calories. She recommends diluting hard liquor with club soda and sipping on water between each drink to try to prevent a hangover.
Follow the "One of Three" Rule
"At parties, dinners, or events, you are often tempted with drinks, dessert, and white carbs, all which provide no nutrients but lots of calories," Shapiro says. "These are the same items that rack up our caloric bill at these events, and they aren’t even our entrée." She tells her clients to pick one of those three to enjoy and skip the other two. "This way you get to indulge and have fun while keeping your calories at bay. Pick a different one the next night if you want, but not on the same night!"
We'd all love to be able to devote our normal amount of time to exercise, but Shapiro notes that during the holidays, time can be limited. "Don’t lose all hope though. Even if you can’t make it to the gym or your favorite class, you can walk home from work, stand on the subway, take the stairs, or take your next conference call while pacing in your office," she says. "It sounds silly but those steps count and keeping that blood flowing keeps your energy up too!"
Don't Beat Yourself Up Mentally
"I always remind my clients to get back on track the very next time they put something in their mouth and do not assign any guilt to what they indulged in," Shapiro says. "Once we feel guilty, we head into a negative spiral which can last a few days or even a few months." #Relatable. She says to accept that you indulged, move on, and get right back on track—no waiting until Monday. "The scale moves up based on what we do consistently, not because of one-off meals or events. So get back to your good habits as soon as you can and move on," she says.
Sweeten Drinks With Fruit
Instead of using sugary mixers and fruit juices to sweeten your alcoholic beverages, try infusing your drinks with berries or lemon, Shapiro recommends.
Choose Organic Wine
If you simply must have your wine (*raises hand*), Shapiro recommends choosing an organic wine. "It is lower in sulfites and usually has no added sugars or juice so you are getting what you paid for and nothing added," she says. "I also like champagne if you can handle the headache the next day. It comes in about 85 calories per flute." Again, she recommends drinking a glass of water between alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated.