Between Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies, and Christmas cookies, practicing healthy eating this season can be tough. But the holidays don’t have to derail your diet (nor do you have to totally abstain), says Haylie Pomroy, author of The Fast Metabolism Diet. Since you know you may be eating more (and a little more junk) this month, focus on keeping your metabolism in high gear with her top tips for the holiday season.
1. Don’t panic, just eat. “Guilt is fattening,” says Pomroy. Instead of obsessing over yesterday’s overindulgences, think about what smart food choices you can make today. To stay on track, cook meals that you can repurpose (make extra chicken breasts tonight for chicken tacos tomorrow night), or ones you can freeze (double a soup recipe and stash the extra for busy days). Pomroy likes using crockpot recipes for make-ahead meals. Need some ideas? Start with our roundup of healthy and delicious slow-cooker recipes.
2. Make time for breakfast. To keep your metabolism up, be extra diligent about eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking, says Pomroy. And here’s a catchy, easy-to-remember rule: “Don’t fast before going fast,” she says. If you’re a morning exerciser, maximize your burn by fueling up before you hit the gym.
3. Snack smarter. How you handle that 4 p.m. snack craving is crucial, says Pomroy. If you normally use that time to fill up on fruit, move your apple to lunch and have a fat-based snack instead, like nuts, seeds, or avocado. The healthy fat will help keep your blood sugar levels stable, so you’re not craving carbs come dinner.
4. Redistribute your calories. Most of us eat a little at breakfast, a little more at lunch, and the most at dinner, but Pomroy says we should try to consume most of our calories during the day. “Flip that ratio,” she says. “Make breakfast and lunch the big ones.” She recommends a small, hot meal plus a salad and fruit for lunch.
5. Have a post-party plan. Even if a few too many margaritas fall into your mouth, or your face lands in a pumpkin pie, you’ll be okay, says Pomroy. Just get back on track so that it doesn’t turn into a season-long binge. The next day, focus on eating tons of fruits and vegetables to reset—try a smoothie for breakfast (don’t miss our ultimate smoothie guide), and maybe pair it with some green tea. Then enjoy the season.
By Marnie Soman Schwartz