Do you want a slim body during the holidays? Adopt these 5 healthy habits

The holiday season is upon us and hopefully you are already feeling the joy. If you haven’t already, you’re probably planning some cozy Christmas movie nights, attending a party or two, and spending some much-needed time with friends and loved ones. Whatever your plans, chances are you’ll also enjoy some of your favorite holiday desserts, dishes, coffees, and cocktails. While these foods and drinks can help make the winter season extra special, they can also add to anxiety if you’re trying to achieve specific health goals, achieving or maintaining a lean body during the holidays.

We wanted to find out how you can enjoy this vacation while staying on track with your weight loss goals. Read on to learn some helpful tips from our expert dietitians, and for more healthy eating tips that may come in handy this winter, check out 6 Eating Habits to Prepare Your Body for ‘Tridemia’.

Follow the 80/20 rule


We wouldn’t dare tell someone to skip their favorite Christmas treats or avoid their favorite holiday dishes in the middle of the holiday season. This is not only unrealistic, but also not funny. Instead, you can try something like the 80/20 rule.

“The 80/20 rule means that 80 percent of the time you focus on sticking to your healthy eating pattern of whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats,” she explains. Amy Goodson, MS, DR, CSSD, LDauthor of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Expert Medical Council. “Then 20% of the time allows for those higher calorie ‘splurge-type’ foods like baked goods, creamy appetizers and all your favorite holiday drinks.”

The 80/20 rule is just a method of indulging while being aware of how much you’re indulging. This is the key to a healthy mindset during the holidays.

“The important message is to pick a gift you love and savor it,” she says. Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDNauthor of Finally full, finally thin and a member of our advisory board of medical experts. “For example, if you’re at a Christmas dessert buffet, take a walk around the selections and choose a reasonable serving of the dessert you like best.”

RELATED: 7 Best Tips to Stay Full Longer, Dietitians Say

Power every meal with protein

With all the sugary desserts, holiday breads, and delicious holiday drinks, this time of year can be very carb-rich. That’s why Goodson recommends focusing on protein when he can.

“Protein is essential in helping you feel full faster and stay full longer,” says Goodson. “So, at breakfast, add eggs, lean breakfast meat, or Greek yogurt to your oatmeal. Eat a lean piece of meat, fish, or poultry at meals. And make protein convenient at snack time by filling your desk drawer and computer bag with protein-rich foods like jerky, energy bars, and nuts.”

Keep hydrated

woman holding a glass of water hydration concept to avoid weight gain

“Water doesn’t make you lean,” says Goodson. “However, liquids help you feel fuller, which can help control portion sizes at meals.”

“Often we think we’re hungry, when really we’re just thirsty,” Young says. “To stay hydrated while on vacation, I recommend water, mineral water, fruits and vegetables with high water content, and limiting your intake of soft drinks and alcohol, which will further dehydrate you.”

smart snack

The holidays are possibly the busiest time of the year. With all the shopping, running errands, cooking, cleaning, and socializing, you’ll likely find yourself on the run all day. To maintain some healthy eating patterns during this busy season, it can help to have some snacks prepared ahead of time.

“To avoid making the wrong decisions when you arrive at a holiday event, pack a healthy snack before you head out in the afternoon,” Young says. “A piece of fruit and string cheese, avocado on whole-grain crackers, a yogurt with an apple, or a serving of nuts are great options to keep hunger at bay.”

RELATED: The Best Snacks to Prevent Weight Gain During the Holidays

Find the movement you enjoy

While not technically a habit related to eating or drinking, another important practice to adopt during the holidays is to make sure you set aside some time to engage in the types of movement you enjoy.

“The reality is that we will all be eating a little more this season, and that’s fine, but the key is also to keep burning calories. Not only will it keep you fitter on vacation, but you’ll also have more energy and feel better,” says Goodson.

“The trick is to do what you love!” Young tips. “Focus yourself with a yoga class to help you become more mindful or go for a run in the morning, which doesn’t take up much of your day.”

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