Don’t dread the Holiday Season. Keep calm and eat on.
‘Tis the season to be jolly! Fallalalalaahh lalalalaaaaah! This time of the year is for many of us filled with lots of social events and get-togethers. We’re getting ready to celebrate and enjoy life with friends and family, snacking themed treats, eating delicious meals, and drinking fancy cocktails, mulled wine, or hot punch. It’s a great time to be alive and I think we can all agree, after the not so easy year(s) it has been, we all deserve to treat ourselves a little (or a lot 😉). But then our sub-conscious comes in. We’ve worked so hard all year to improve our health, we don’t want to jeopardize it now. We don’t want to have to start over. We don’t want to feel bad about ourselves. Well, you don’t have to! IT IS POSSIBLE to be healthy AND enjoy life. You can take part in the festivities and not regret it later. Life is not about either or, it’s about balance. Your balance.
Now you probably think: “ok, cool, sounds good. How do I do that???”
First of all, be kind to yourself. Understand that these moments of indulgence during the holidays are a special time to be enjoyed and you have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed of. 2nd, don’t plan on going on an extreme diet/detox after the holidays. It only encourages uncontrolled and excessive overindulgence, can cause physical and psychological harm, and sets you up for failure. 3rd, remember that you are in control. You can pick and choose what and how much you eat and drink.
So let’s utilize this to benefit your health and manage the holiday season like a champ.
Success lies in planning. Often we know which holiday events we can look forward to so we are able to prepare ourselves for them. If you’re invited into someone’s home, ask if you can contribute a dish and make it a healthy one that supports your goals.
Going to a party? Eat a balanced meal beforehand to avoid getting trapped by the breaded and fried snacks that will make the rounds. You’ll be able to resist more easily, feel proud of yourself and enjoy the evening even more.
Don't force yourself to skip meals if you had a bigger dinner the night before or know you’ll be attending an event later in the day. Unless you are still feeling stuffed, have a small healthy breakfast, maybe a veggie omelet or a green smoothie. The nutrients will help you recover from the night before or keep you full until the party, without leaving you starving and reaching for everything in sight.
Slow and mindful eating have proven to be an effective method to prevent overeating. When you eat slow, you are more aware of your satiety feeling and can stop eating when you are satisfied.
Managing portion sizes can also be a helpful tool to avoid feeling stuffed at the end of the day. Start out by taking small portions and enjoy them, you can always go back for more if you’re still hungry.
Don’t get trapped by making a full meal out of the snacks laying around. Remember that they are just the appetizers. Save room for the main course.
The same goes for desserts. Be smart. If you can’t decide between multiple options, take really small samples or share with someone. You’ll feel much better about yourself and avoid the sugar crash.
Have a strategy
Preparation is key, and this is just another form of planning ahead. Study the menu or the buffet and make a plan for yourself. Pick your splurges in moderation and eat the rainbow. Choose colorful vegetables, raw or steamed, and fruits as side dishes.
Focus on real foods and limit fried, battered, and processed items. Fill up on lean protein like turkey breast and only enjoy things like sausages in small quantities.
Choose drinks wisely. Moderate your alcohol and sugary drink intake. Keep a water bottle nearby and alternate water with your other drinks. You’ll feel much better staying hydrated and might even avoid a nasty headache the next day.
Visit the people not the food
Sounds obvious but this is something even I have to remind myself of sometimes because I just love delicious foods haha but really, the holidays are first and foremost about coming together with the people you care about. So, let’s focus on that.
Take your time to talk with everyone, catch up on what you’ve missed, play games, interact with kids and dogs (or cats if you’re a cat person), go outside and build a snowman or go fishing, exercise together, etc. You’ll cherish the time spent together and the new memories made much more than a slice of ham or piece of pie.
Say no to food pushers (politely)
This is not always easy, especially when Grandma wants to fix you another plate, and another, and just one more… But it’s okay to say you are full. Don’t be bullied into feeling guilty for prioritizing your health. Let’s be honest, no one feels great about themselves when they are too stuffed to move for a few hours.
Politely decline, say thank you. Say you’ve already had some and it was delicious or that you’re saving room for later. A little trick, ask about the secret ingredient or cooking method of a dish to divert the conversation. 😉
Final words of encouragement
These tips will help you to successfully navigate the holidays in a way you can enjoy your family and friends and foods in a balanced way. Remember to be kind to yourself and to others but treat it like it is. A holiDAY. Not holiWEEK or holiMONTH.
Want to learn more about how we support our clients on their nutrition journey during the holidays? Or do you also want to reach your optimal weight, lose excess fat, and/or simply have more energy? Then check out our programs here.
Certified Nutrition Coach
Eat better, not perfect
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