7 Easy Diet Hacks to Survive the Holidays

The holidays do NOT have to mean stress-fueled binges, adding extra pounds, or feeling hungover the last two months of the year.

November 21, 2016
holiday dinner

November 1st arrives, and suddenly every event revolves around eating and drinking. Cocktails after work, appetizers with friends, parties with neighbors... healthy eating rules go out the window.

And it's hard to say no. Friends and family back you into a gingerbread-filled corner, where declining feels like you're rejecting them. People who lunch on salads the rest of the year start pushing Nutella fudge and eggnog like they're working on commission!

More: 5 Ways to Stay Sane & Fit While Traveling

Combine that with the stress and hectic schedule of the holiday season, and it's easy to fall into a cycle of overindulging and regret—not to mention that fueling your body with challenging, inflammatory foods interferes with everything from your mood to your immune system.

Want to hear some great news? The holidays do NOT have to mean stress-fueled binges, adding extra pounds, or feeling hungover the last two months of the year. 

Here are 7 easy ways to navigate the holidays:

breakfast smoothie
1. Pay attention to breakfast

What you eat in the morning sets your metabolic tone for the rest of the day. Start with a muffin and a venti skinny latte, and you guarantee a midday energy crash. It's a lot harder to resist frosted sugar cookies when you're running on empty. Drink a protein shake within an hour of waking up, and you've got a head start on resisting holiday munchies and fighting off that cold that's going around. 

More: 7 High-Protein Breakfast Hacks

hiit workout running stairs
2. Move more

Getting exercise doesn't just promote weight loss—it also balances the hormones that control your appetite and make you feel happy. One of the best ways to combat holiday stress and overeating is to work out regularly. That doesn't mean hours at the gym! Try high-intensity interval training. Just 10 minutes a day is all it takes to burn more fat and feel less stressed.

vegetable tray
3. Eat before you go

You're a lot less likely to fall prey to pastry-wrapped brie and a second glass of rosé if you have a sensible meal before the party. Instead of relying on your host to provide diet-friendly options, eat a dinner with clean protein, veggies, and healthy fats at home. It also doesn't hurt to keep a protein bar in your bag, just in case.

More: How to Build Your Dinner Plate for Weight Loss


cheesecake bite
4. Use the 3-bite rule

As long as a food doesn't trigger any known sensitivities, it's fine to take three polite bites and put the fork down. That's enough to taste your best friend's caramel cheesecake, but not enough to derail your diet. (And "polite bites" means the kind you'd eat on live TV, not standing in front of your fridge at midnight.)

cinnamon rolls
5. Block the bad guys

Sometimes, the carbs win. Maybe your boss is handing out slices of her famous pound cake, and it would kill your promotion chances to turn her down. Or your mom stands smiling with a platter of cinnamon rolls, and you love her too much to disappoint. If you know you're going to eat carbs, dairy, or soy, you can take a digestive aid ahead of time that blocks their absorption and minimizes the consequences. That way you have a backup plan when real life gets in the way of your health goals.

More: 7 Ways to Fight Vacation Food Cravings

6. Head off your hangover

You can have a fun night out without a miserable morning after. In between every glass of wine or cocktail, drink 8 ounces of water. Then take an extra dose of B12, which can help prevent the unpleasant side effects of overdoing it.

More: 5 Reasons You Need More B12

relaxing fireplace
7. Get some downtime

Ever notice you always gain weight or get sick when life is busiest? That's not a coincidence! Stress and sleep deprivation cause a spike in hormones that weaken your immune system and make you feel hungry and cranky. Make time to relax and enjoy yourself, and don't get cornered into stressful activities. 

If building a gingerbread house with your kids makes you crazy, find a new holiday tradition that doesn't. It's also okay to offer a loving-but-firm "no thank you" to holiday party invites. Getting 7 to 9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night is vital to maintaining a healthy weight and positive attitude.

Slow down, plan ahead, and you're ready for a fun, healthy holiday season!

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