If you're anything like us, healthy holidays are a must. Surrounded by heaps and mounds of food with nary a macro in mind, the stalwart 6 Pack Bag user is already prepared with their own carefully planned healthier varieties. You don't make sacrifices year round for nothing, so follow our tips to keep your holidays on the healthy side.
1. Bring your own food.
The easiest way to make sure the gathering will have food appropriate to your dietary needs is to bring your own. After all, that's exactly what your meal management bag is for – ensuring you have proper food on hand no matter what's going on. Close family and friends will probably already know how important staying healthy, holidays or not, is to you, but you can always have a conversation and explain yourself beforehand.
If you decide you can't or don't want to bring all your own food, you can still contribute one healthy dish to share with everyone. Who knows – you might even turn someone on to healthier eating!
2. Prepare before the party.
Not everyone will be able to pull this healthy holidays trick off, but for those that can, it's an abundantly easy way to keep from falling prey to empty party food. The answer is simple: eat before you go. If it's a full blown dinner party and you really can't escape eating at all, at least make sure to eat a full breakfast, but if you're an avid 6 Packer, we know you never skimp on the most important meal of the day.
3. If there's no way out, remember only you are in control of what you eat.
Sometimes there's absolutely no way out of family dinners, and bringing all
of your own food is simply not an option. Even in these situations, you can still exercise what control you do have to keep your plans for healthy holidays in check. Don't be afraid to ask simple questions about the ingredients to choose the healthiest option – you can always do it privately to be on the safe side. Then, load up on all the lowest-calorie items, such as vegetable side dishes and lean proteins. You don't need to deprive yourself of every rich dish, either; just make sure to take small portions.
Another way to stay nutritionally aware when the menu is out of your hands is to avoid variety on your plate. Some studies have shown that when a meal features foods with a large assortment of tastes, textures, smells, shapes, and colors – as holiday dinner usually do - many people tend to eat more, regardless of how hungry they are. Use psychology to your advantage, even if it means your holiday plate isn't nearly as colorful as those of your not-so-health-conscious cousins.
4. You are also in control of how you eat.
If you're stuck at a family dinner, chances are that there are multiple courses. You can use this to advantage by using the smaller plates for your main course. A salad or dessert plate forces you to give yourself smaller portions; one study showed that people serving themselves food gave themselves more when using oversized bowls and serving utensils.
A separate study found that using short, wide glasses often leads people to pour more liquid than they would into tall, skinny glasses. If you have a choice over what kind of cup to use at dinner, remember this and go for a tall, skinny glass.
You should also wait for all the food to be on the table before you start loading up your plate. This way, there's less chance you'll grab another round when the plate inevitably comes back around. Yet another study has shown that those who make their food selections all at once chow down about 14 percent less than those who take refills as the plates go around.
5. Keep office treats out of your view.
If you have a sweet tooth, it might become difficult to stay disciplined during the holidays when everyone and their mother (literally) is bringing in baked goods, candy canes, and other sugary treats. This healthy holidays tip is as simple as making sure that if you know you will be tempted, politely ask that the snacks are kept in an area that you can avoid if you don't want to be in their vicinity.
The leftovers of healthy holidays are perfect to store in your meal management bag, gym tote, or gym backpack, and you'll be glad you didn't succumb to the empty carbs and sweets that run rampant in the holiday season. For even more meal prep tips for healthy holidays, check out our ideas for clean eating on Thanksgiving
and how to have a paleo Thanksgiving
. Browse all our guides on How to Meal Prep
and our many Meal Prep Sundays recipes
for even nutritional goodness.
Second image courtesy of @blancaberoes