How to Get Your Diet Back On Track After the Holidays
Oh, Christmas season! I don’t know about you, but I love it—all the friends and family I get to see, the twinkle lights and carols, the FOOD! Homemade bread, cakes and cookies, turkey and ham, decadent and fatty homemade sides. Lots of eating out, eggnog, and drinks with friends!
I LOVE food, and if I’m totally honest, I have basically no will-power. Even during the times that I was eating strictly paleo, I gave in during the holidays and indulged.
But once the holidays are over, my body is bloated, I feel gross, and I’m ready to get back to a more healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Come January 1st, there’s no single way to get back into better habits, but I have a few things that I always do to help get myself back on track. If you have a problem with will-power like I do, these steps set you up for any additional changes that you want to make—they make the transition into a healthier lifestyle SO much easier! I’ve followed this process several times after a vacation or holiday season, and it has never failed me yet!
3 easy steps for how to get your diet back on track after the holidays
Step 1: Drink more water than you think you need
The holidays for me are always filled with wine and beer, cocktails, a LOT of coffee… I’m not really much of a soda person, but let’s be honest, it’s ALWAYS around at parties and when you go out for a bite with the family or friends. Of course, this year I’m 25 weeks pregnant, so at least it’s one Christmas season that I don’t have to worry about hang overs!
I never drink enough water over the holidays, and I’m always left feeling parched and dry.
If you live in a particularly dry area like me or plan on working out a lot in the coming weeks, I would aim for 120 oz of water per day. (That’s about a gallon.) If you’re in a more humid climate or won’t be sweating profusely during the day 80-100 ounces is probably a good starting place.
The main goal is just to rehydrate your cells, lubricate your joints, help boost your immune system, and all the other amazing things that water does for you.
I am talking about water—not gatorade, not tea, not flavored drinks… WATER! Plain old, lovely, fresh water from whatever source you want.
In case you need some more motivation to drink lots of water, here are a few articles (scientific and anecdotal) to give you some motivation!
Keep this up as long as you can. It’s amazing how much a little extra water can springboard your journey to health!
Step 2: Take a probiotic
Our gut flora is something that assists with digestion, immune function, and even brain function, as scientists are finding out! This is another easy answer for how to get your diet back on track after vacation!
If you’re not already taking one through the holidays, consider adding one to your regular routine. There are plenty of articles about how and when to take probiotics, and what kinds to take.
First, you want to select a quality probiotic. Yes, they are expensive. But you’re going to feel SO much better after a few weeks of taking them. Look for probiotics that have at least 20 million and at least 12 different strains. The more strains, the more diverse of a gut flora you will have, the better your digestion will be.
I start by taking probiotics as frequently as is suggested on the nutrition label. That’s usually about 3-6 pills a day (or servings, if you got the powder kind). After about a week or so, I scale back to one or two per day just to keep the bacteria healthy and sustained.
Now, the probiotics you take are going to be working hard to colonize in your intestines. That means that they will be interacting with your food and other organisms in your gut like yeast. Be prepared for some SERIOUS flatulence at first as the yeast dies off, especially if you’re taking probiotics for the first time ever, or first time in a while.
This is totally natural! The gas should subside in a few days. Stick it out and I promise you’ll feel better!
Another side effect of the gas is that you will feel fuller longer and after smaller meals.
Step 3: Substitute Protein Foods for Carb Foods
The next thing that I try to do is make sure that I’m eating a fair amount of protein. Protein helps to keep you fuller longer and will stabilize your blood sugar with fewer spikes and dips during the day.
This means preparing for meals and snacks that are packed with protein. I’m partial to eggs in the morning, and salads with plenty of meat during the day.
Here are a couple of my favorite recipes to get you started:
If you don’t like eggs, another option would be eating your cereal or granola with greek yogurt or having a breakfast sandwich. Just watch the amount of bread/carbs you’re consuming!
If you aren’t a fan of salads for lunch, make sure your lunch contains meat (or tofu, beans, etc. if you’re a vegetarian).
Consider packing protein-filled snacks like almonds or peanut-butter, greek yogurt, jerky, boiled eggs, or rolling lunchmeat and cheese together!
Especially if you’ve been regularly eating carbs, your body is probably going through those awful blood sugar spikes and dips, and will continue to do this at first once you switch to more protein-packed foods. This is why it’s important to eat smaller meals, or more frequent snacks. I hardly ever recommend 3 large meals a day—it sets you up to consume too much.
Keep your blood sugar stable! After a few days of your body adjusting to your new eating patterns, your blood sugar should naturally start to stabilize on its own and you’ll feel fewer of those shifts and “hangry” moods.
Add your own last steps!
That’s it! The last step is to make any final changes that YOU want to instill into your diet. Maybe that means going paleo, maybe it means another diet or lifestyle. (But stay away from fad diets!) Whatever it is, these three initial steps can set you up for success in your health and diet goals!
For me personally, I eliminate sugar! I’ve had SO many desserts during the holidays that my body is used to those quick calories!
This is the LAST step that I take, because the other 3 steps set your body up for success. I’ve tried many times to avoid dessert or sweets before I’m fully hydrated, before my gut flora is established, and before I have introduced protein…
…It didn’t go so well! I was back to the sugary stuff within 24 hours! (Like I said, basically NO will-power!)
With hydration, a healthy gut-flora, and some protein in your diet, it becomes significantly easier to achieve those other dietary goals that I have for yourself! Bonus: The answer to how to get your diet back on track after vacation is so simple! These tricks are EASY to implement into your life/routine.
Small changes over time yield big results.
Good luck, and stay healthy!!
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