The holiday season is upon us! From now until the New Year, our calendars are full of exciting events and opportunities to engage with others and celebrate this time of year. If you are like us here at Innova Primary Care, not only are your days filling up with to-dos, but we’ve got office parties, dinner parties, banquets, and more. Full schedules and plates abound during the holidays, and with so much on our agendas, we all need a holiday diet plan to help us feel our best during all the soirees.

One way to keep yourself and your health in check this holiday season is to go ahead and make a plan of attack for how you will handle all the meals and activities. Traditionally, the businesses of the holidays upend our routines and make staying consistent challenging. However, if you do a few things to set yourself up for success, you can navigate the festivals with your health and mental well-being intact. Read on for tips to tackle the holidays healthily.

Choose wisely

Eating well during the holidays can be tricky, with all your favorites sure to appear. However, this does not mean you can’t enjoy every banquet and buffet.

We suggest you consider the foods you love and add them in springily. If chocolate is your thing, then by all means, enjoy a slice of chocolate cake.

You can enjoy delicious food offerings, but be judicious and thoughtful about what you consume.

Holiday Diet Plan

Stay hydrated

The cues that your body gives you to indicate thirst can often mimic hunger. Have you ever felt lightheaded or even felt your stomach growl and immediately went to the fridge for a snack? Did you know that these cues might be signaling thirst and not hunger? Studies show that up to 37% of people mistake hunger for thirst.

Hydration is vital to health, and 75% of American adults are chronically dehydrated, impacting their health and cognition. So many are unaware of the signs of hunger and, therefore, reach for a snack rather than a large glass of water to combat the real issue: thirst.

Over the holidays, ensure you drink enough water, around half your body weight in ounces each day. This will keep you hydrated and avoid excess calories from snacking when thirst is the culprit.

Don’t show up hungry

It is tempting to avoid meals leading up to a party so that you can indulge, but a smarter way is to keep yourself on your regular eating schedule to prevent blood sugar crashes. There is no need to change anything!

Rather than entering the party space ravenous, have some protein and fiber beforehand so you aren’t tempted to pile everything on your plate.

Bring your own side dish

One way to outsmart the buffet is to bring a healthy dish you enjoy when you attend functions. If you know you are tempted to grab everything in sight, bring along healthy options that allow you to partake in a way that keeps you feeling good.

Limit alcohol

Festive cocktails and spiked ciders abound this time of year, but just because they are available doesn’t mean you have to indulge. Excessive alcohol consumption leads to eating more for a variety of reasons. For one, alcohol lowers inhibitions, making it harder to say no to food. When alcohol is consumed before and during meal times, people traditionally eat more. Additionally, evidence suggests that alcohol impacts the hormones responsible for satiety and may even impact cells within the hypothalamus, increasing appetite.

If you are going to consume alcohol at functions this season, be sure to sip slowly, and don’t forget to drink water.

Prioritize movement

With a cramped schedule, it is a challenge to prioritize exercise, but don’t skip out on your gym sessions and daily walks. Movement really is magical for so many reasons. Not only does it help keep you fit and strong, exercise is a great way to manage stress and keep your mental health in balance.

You don’t have to take on any new fitness challenges this season unless you want to. But prioritizing movement in your holiday diet plan will help provide some consistency to your daily routines, keep your weight in check, and do so much good for your soul.

Holiday Diet Plan

Don’t skimp on sleep

Did you know that a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain? When we get enough restorative sleep, our bodies can help regulate the production of leptin and ghrelin, the “hunger” hormones. Leptin helps regulate fat storage and feelings of hunger, while ghrelin, a hormone produced in the stomach, alerts the body to sensations of hunger. These hormones and a network of others help the body know when to eat and when to stop. Sleep is necessary for them both.

Sleep and weight management go hand in hand. A great night of sleep leaves you energized and ready to tackle the day, which will most likely make you more active. On the other hand, poor sleep has you reaching for caffeine and can lead to excess snacking to help you stay awake.

Even though your schedule is busy, make time to get proper rest. You won’t regret it!

Weight gain isn’t inevitable over the holidays

You don’t have to put on an extra 5-10 pounds this holiday season. Weight gain is not the inevitable result of family gatherings, office parties, and get-togethers with friends. You also don’t have to fear all the treats that accompany the season.

Having a holiday diet plan and sticking to it will go a long way to prevent holiday weight gain. Choose your treats wisely, stay hydrated, limit alcohol, get moving, and prioritize sleep. And above all else, find joy this season.

We wish you the merriest Christmas of all. From ours to yours, we are thankful for our patients and never take our jobs lightly. Here at Innova, we want to see you well, mind, body, and soul.