You came, you saw, you coleslawed, And you ate one too many hot dogs and desserts to boot.
Eating healthy during summer holidays weekend and backyard gatherings is no easy feat, and as registered dietician Katie Dodd points out, many people are "social eaters."
"We eat to celebrate holidays, events, and gatherings with friends and family. It’s easy to overeat when socializing as you may not be paying attention to your hunger cues," says registered dietician Katie Dodd who owns The Geriatric Dietitian. "You may also be eating fun, delicious foods (and maybe even desserts) that you don’t usually consume. It’s easy to eat a dessert even when you are full, just to enjoy the flavor and to celebrate the holiday."
Dodd says it’s important to see the bigger picture. "One day or weekend of overeating will not likely have negative effects on our health. It is more important to focus on the healthy habits we have before and after holiday celebrations," she said. "Get back to eating a healthy diet and moving your body. Don’t punish yourself for enjoying some extra foods because this can create an unhealthy relationship with foods and may lead you to binge or overeat these foods."
Here are easy, expert tips to get back on track after a weekend of indulgence.
1. Don’t delay hopping back on the healthy living bandwagon.
It’s easy to make the excuse that you already "blew it" with a long weekend of eating and drinking. Rather than procrastinating on your return to healthy living, make a commitment to starting now.
"Following the holidays, it's often hard to get back on track when it relates to diet and exercise. We have a difficult time getting motivated and often feel crappy, making it difficult to get back in the swing of things," says Kristin Gillespie, RD and advisor for exercisewithstyle.com. "It's important to resume healthy eating habits and exercise as soon as possible following the holiday to help you lose that holiday weight and just generally feel better."
2. Log what you eat.
Whether it’s a good old-fashioned food journal where you chronicle everything you eat or an app like MyFitnessPal, now’s the time to get into the habit. "If you need help losing weight, self-monitoring eating and physical activity (i.e., tracking what you eat and how much you exercise) can be beneficial in getting back on track with healthy eating habits," says Dodd, citing this research.
3. Enlist the help of a nutritionist.
Dodd says it can be helpful to work with a registered dietitian to learn how to improve your relationship with food.
"This can help your eating habits during the holidays and prevent weight cycling that often occurs with the holiday seasons [like] gaining then losing weight over and over again," Dodd said, adding that many nutritionists offer virtual consultations which can be convenient and affordable.
4. Drink lots of water.
"Over holiday weekends, we tend to consume large amounts of salt, which results in fluid retention and bloating," says Gillespie. "Upping your water consumption following your holiday indulgence can help flush that extra salt out of your body and normalize your body water homeostasis."
If you find plain old H2O boring, try infusing it with herbs like mint or basil and fruits and veggies like cucumbers, watermelon, and strawberries.
Amy Gorin, a plant-based registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, Connecticut, echoes Gillespie’s sentiment – stressing that it’s important to drink water before and during your meals. "In a study in obesity, adults with obesity who drank about two cups of water before they ate each of their daily meals lost more than 9 pounds in about three months. Drink your water however you like it the best – out of a cup, from a bottle, or through a straw," she comments.
5. Snack on fruits and veggies galore.
After a week of going heavy on the packaged snacks, reset with fresh produce, Gorin says.
"These can be much more nutritious choices to grab, versus snacks like chips and cookies. I recommend keeping a supply of fruit on the countertop — right now in my fruit basket, you’ll find fresh cherries, mandarin oranges, and bananas — as well as cut fruit and vegetables in the fridge," says Gorin. "Pair [fruits and vegetables] with a couple of tablespoons of nuts or a string cheese for a snack that will keep you fuller for longer."