Through most of the year I run clean and lean, but when the holidays roll around, I'm notorious for eating and drinking BIG and spending all of January digging myself out of a hole.
I don't seem to be alone in this struggle.
The combination of being stuck indoors, holiday stress, lack of routine with holidays and travel, and abundant rich, delicious food is a combination designed to derail you.
Holidays are terrific occasions for a big indulgence. Here at Kenzai, we emphasize a healthy balance, not flawless perfection. So if you've been training hard and your diet has been on-point, hey, why not?
The problem is that a one or two-meal binge can easily snowball from a 'Holiday' into a 'Holiweek,' or even 'Holimonth.' A single day won't do much to dent those hard-earned gains, but a three to four-week bender certainly will.
So when you consciously decide to let loose, it's important that you have, and stick to, a plan to get back on track, as quickly as possible. Here are 10 tactics to avert a prolonged derailment:
Deal wisely with the leftovers:
1. Hopefully not everything from your fête is 'non-compliant.’ Separate out the healthy veggie and protein dishes to use later.
2. Did some reasonably healthy carbs survive the bacchanalia? Great! Split these out into smaller portions when storing, to avoid the temptation to graze from a single, large bucket.
3. Often, over-loaded party salads can be rendered Kenzai friendly. If possible, pick-out any high-calorie add-ins like croutons or cheese, then rinse with cold water and then spin or shake out excess dressing and oils. Clean!
4. If you're having visiting family and friends over, grab some cheap recyclable containers and send the sweets, along with any other rich foods, home with your guests. Outta home, outta site, outta mind, outta mouth!
"Plan for the day after..."
5. When out foraging for your feast, be sure to bring along your 'clean' shopping list and snag the fruits, veggies, protein and dairy you would normally buy. If fridge space is going to be a premium, go with smaller quantities or buy items that don't require refrigeration.
6. If possible, prep and cook this clean food alongside the holiday fare. You may not have the time or energy for another big cooking session, especially if you're the host.
7. Holiday versions of carbs are often bogged down with sauces and cheeses that will pack the fat on. Specifically schedule some time to cook up some clean healthy carbs to accompany the remains from yesterday.
8. As soon as possible, perhaps the evening after your indulgence, be sure to set out the fruit and healthy snacks to minimizing grazing on empty carbs and sweets.
9. Don't skip breakfast the next day! Avoid a big craving hit and that blood sugar roller coaster by going back to those frequent feedings. Not hungry? Fine--have a small breakfast, but get something nourishing in your system.
10. Plan some fun social activities that don't revolve around food, but do keep you at home. Avoid party fatigue and the temptation to flee to the comfort of the nearest restaurant or bar, and try to assign the 'organizer' role to someone else!
With a little discipline, some advanced planning, and mindful choices you can prevent a reasonable, one-day diet deviation from turning into a days-or weeks-long dietary version of the movie 'The Hangover.' Good luck. And Happy HoliDAY!