The Athletes Guide for Healthy Eating Over the Holidays
The holidays are easily filled with brunches, dinners, parties and late nights, which can sabotage an athlete’s sport nutrition plan and potentially compromise both exercise recovery and athletic performance. This is not to say you have to avoid all treats that are being offered! Instead, take care not to over indulge and compromise your overall health and performance. Here are a few simple tips to help you stay on track throughout the holiday season:
- Eat Regular Meals Throughout the Day
Starving yourself all day long so you can let loose later that evening will not work in your favor. If you have a holiday dinner in the evening, follow your regular eating schedule to avoid overeating at dinner. Eat balanced meals and small snacks throughout the day. High fibre, lean protein and healthy fats/oils help keep your appetite inline.
- Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is a major cause of poor performance and can be misinterpreted for cravings! Aim for 8-10 cups of fluid each day especially during outside activities. Drinking water before each meal will curb your appetite and keep you from overindulging. Be cautious of high calorie drinks such as eggnog and coffee beverages made with whole milk, syrup, sugar and whip cream. Try having water with frozen blueberries and or lemon or try lighter options of hot beverages by substituting whole milk for lower milk or alternatives such as a Steamer.
- Take Ownership of the Situation
When bringing or making something for the party, bring a healthy option. Chances are everyone else will be glad you did! Fruit platters/salad, hard-boiled eggs stuffed with hummus (yolks removed), mini yogurt parfaits, date’n nut bites, or a box of oranges are just a few ways to remind you to stay on track.
- Everything in Moderation – 80-20 Rule
Staying mindful over the holidays does not mean all or nothing. Follow the 80/20 rule. This means eat planned and on purpose healthy meals and snacks 80% of the time and enjoy holiday treats 20% of the time. Load up on raw or steamed veggies, have 2-3 ounces of turkey and opt for roasted potatoes or light mashed potatoes with low fat milk and light sour cream. Save some room on your plate for the less nutrient dense foods (perogies, gravy, stuffing, etc) and choose these options less often.
Have a sweet tooth but don’t want to compromise your diet? Make no bake energy bites by mixing together 1 cup of oats, ½ cup peanut butter, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips and 1 tsp vanilla. Keep refrigerated for 30 minutes then roll into balls.
Have leftover turkey? Make a nutritious turkey cran-apple wrap: 1 whole grain tortilla, 1-2 tbsp homemade cranberry sauce, 1 ounce sliced low fat cheddar cheese, 60g turkey breast, ¼ Granny Smith apple sliced thinly. Recipe from Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook