Pick up any fitness or lifestyle magazine and you are likely to find several dozen articles on healthy holiday meals. It’s been done and I’m not going to bore you to death with the same. I’m going to approach a little realized holiday diet havoc, the seasonal schedule. This season is more than just two big holiday feasts that derail your progress; it’s effectively 60 full days of havoc! Holiday survival guides are key to staying in control.
Now you’re saying, how, and what is he talking about? Well think about it, you have holiday events, children’s school events, children’s school vacations, family vacations, and shopping. This time of year in its essence is a time of great nonconformity. With nonconformity comes instability of time to account for your health and fitness goals.
A 2010 study by Consumer Reports found that the average American will spend 42 hours on holiday shopping, preparation, and celebration. About 15-20 hours of that is spent on shopping alone. When is the last time you saw a gym and a clean balanced meal in the mall?
You’re running around stressed and short on time. Food options are not the best, so what can you do? Well you can use these handy fitness tips to navigate your holiday experience and hopefully not let that 42 hours become 42 pounds.
Many fitness publications tell you how to navigate the grocery store. Well here is how to navigate the mall to eat the best.
Holiday Survival Guide
- Mall food is notoriously unhealthy. The trick here is to get out of the food court. Pretty much every major mall will have a vitamin and supplement store, these are the promise land of clean mall cuisine. The moment you arrive at the mall make your first stop the supplement store. Grab yourself a few protein bars. You are going to be doing a lot of walking so some moderate carb bars I recommend are Supreme Protein or Robert Irvine’s Fit Crunch bars. Each packs in about 30 grams of high quality protein. Lower carb options are Quest bars or MuscleTech Mission 1 bars. The great part about the low carb bars is they’re full of high quality fiber.
- Fitness Tip – Buy one bar for every three hours you expect to be at the mall. Another option are ready To Drink protein shakes or RTDs. While there is no substitute for whole food meals, these bars and shakes are much better options than the usual food court fare. And consider two bars or shakes will run you about $6.00-8.00 which is comparable to the price of a food court calorie bomb. Even if you’re not a mall shopper stores like Wal Mart carry these same items. Superstores like Wal Mart usually have a better deal as well.
- Leave the mall. That’s right, go outside and get some fresh air. Look around, most malls and shopping plazas are anchored by chain restaurants. Most times these restaurants offer slightly better options than the food court. More than likely, you can find a nice piece of chicken, fish, or beef and a side of vegetables.
- If all else fails get creative in the food court. If you must eat there, then take an extra few minutes and get creative. Buy a grilled chicken sandwich minus the dressing, ask for extra lettuce and tomato then when you get it ditch the bun. The same can be done with fast food sandwich shops, some of which feature salads. And any sandwich shop worth their salt is sure to have oil and vinegar to flavor up your vegetables.
- Keep an eye out as well; the rare food court will feature healthy eateries. Maybe you’ve never noticed that obscure place over in the corner next to the bathrooms and wheelchairs. The good thing is their lines are usually shorter than the national fast food franchise spots.
These tips also work when traveling and attending holiday events. And I said I wasn’t going to do it, but as an early holiday gift, here is a few tactics to lessen the burden on your Christmas dinner. I am a firm believer in removing diet restrictions for holidays, so go in well prepared.
How to Lessen the Burden of Christmas Day Binge
- The week leading up to your feast restrict most all starch and just stick to lean protein and vegetables with no more then 60 – 80 carbs a day.
- Drink a protein shake 90 minutes before the meal to prevent over eating.
- 60-90 minutes before meal time get in a good 45-60 minute workout (with weights). Let part of that big dinner go to muscle repair.
Run in place while eating to cancel out incoming calories…just kidding, have a seat.