Tis the season of tricks and treats. Emphasis on treats. When cold weather sets in and candy goes on sale, it usually signals our guard to go down when it comes to nutrition plan discipline. Being flexible with indulging once in a while can help balance the mindset around an otherwise strict plan, but for those hoping to stay on track this season, we’ve put together five tips to get through Halloween – and keep in mind for the upcoming holidays.
Stick to healthy swaps
Substituting is essential when temptation surrounds us. Seasonal “comfort” foods are typically laced with sugar, salt and fat – which is why they taste decadent and celebratory. Start by swapping candy for fruit or herbal teas to satiate your sweet tooth. Take it a step further by swapping traditional baking ingredients like white sugar, flour, and butter with stevia, almond flour and avocado (respectively). Sauté meals in olive oil instead of vegetable oils or butter, and sub out cheese for a lower fat, higher protein flavoring like nutritional yeast.
Mind your liquids
The sweaty summer months may be in the past, but our body still needs a steady stream of hydration. Being mindful of drinking water or other hydrating unsweetened liquids keeps the body operating optimally and helps rev the metabolism to keep energy levels up. But don’t wait until your mouth runs dry. Turns out, your body is dehydrated long before you feel thirsty. It can be challenging to remember to drink water. Our advice? The fastest way to increase water intake is to have a cup or water bottle in your field of vision at all times for a visual cue to drink.
Balance each meal
The body craves what it is lacking. When we’re tired, we reach for more carbohydrates because it is (typically) our primary source of energy. When hunger hits, we often compulsively fill up on high-fat foods to compensate for a prolonged lack of calories. Balancing each meal with carbohydrates, fats and protein helps to reduce blood sugar spikes and keep hunger and satiety hormone signaling maintained, which can lower the chances of binge eating behavior and provide sustained energy to support exercise.
Out of sight, out of mind
Like the aforementioned tip for increasing water intake, the opposite is true with visual cues. In this case, limiting or removing unhealthy food items like candy or processed snacks from your environment will quite literally take them out of your mind, too. Some people are skilled at portioning treats, others find success in simply not buying them in the first place. Either way, an easy way to keep temptation at bay is to not be tempted at all.
Find a new reason for the season
There is no doubt that food brings people together. We celebrate around the dinner table and treat ourselves to celebrate holidays and milestones. While this is central to human nature, it puts significant emphasis on food being the reason to celebrate, which can make us more inclined to indulge. Instead of having food be the center of a holiday, focus on other reasons for coming together – even if it’s through Zoom this year. Your reason may be to catch up with friends, to build a better relationship with a family member, or to be thankful for your family’s health this year. Focusing on why friends and family are important – other than their famous pie recipes – can help bring a new perspective on celebration and lessen your chances of overindulging.
Hoping to ramp-up your nutrition plan this Fall? Talk to our Nutrition Coaches on tailored programming to help support your goals as the holidays near.