The holidays are stressful for a ton of people! Between family drama, the financial burden, and end of the year bustle, there’s a lot to be stressed about. On top of all that, you’ve worked hard for the past 10.5 months and have made some amazing progress and you don’t want this year to be another failure.
Maintaining your nutrition around the holidays is not easy. Not only is food physically around making things difficult, but the emotional side of food around the holidays makes it even worse.
1. All of your favorite foods are there. How can you eat a salad when your favorite sweet potato pie is sitting right across the table?
2. You used to gorge out on the holidays. Pattern should just repeat itself, right?
3. Food is an expression of culture and love. In most families, there are foods that are traditionally prepared and only one on specific day. My mom makes the best sweet potato casserole. We never have it other than Thanksgiving and Christmas. She’s not making it because it’s just a side dish to go with the turkey. She’s making it because our family—specifically my sister and I—loves it. One year, my grandma had hand surgery and could not cook. We told her to not worry about it, that we would cover her dishes and all would be well, but she couldn’t do it. She had to find a way to get the dishes that we love prepared. My grandma just spent hours post-op forcing my poor granddad to help and clean and make things perfect…how can I refuse food made with so much love because I “eat healthy now”?
4. The pressure is real. Maybe you’re the only one who watches what they eat. That can be extremely difficult if your family or friends don’t understand. Sometimes their behavior can come off as mocking, making you self-conscious and uncomfortable. The peer pressure around food is just as bad as alcohol, believe me!
5. Maybe the family drama is real and you just need food in your mouth or a drink in your hand at all times just to make it through.
There are a ton of other potential reasons why holidays are hard. I grew up with two families, where holidays were always divided. This meant 2-3 Thanksgiving meals. Yet my sister and I always managed!
Have no fear, though. There are ways to make the holidays work in your favor so you can stay healthy and on track AND enjoy all of the yummy food.
Here are my top 10 ways to crush the holidays:
1. PLAN! Sounds familiar right?? It should. If you didn’t check out my most recent blog post about the Secret to Success, do so NOW! Plan when you’re having your Thanksgiving(s) and what is being made so you can prepare. If no one is making a vegetable dish, then volunteer to make a dish full of veggies to guarantee at least one serving will be provided.
2. DON’T RESTRICT. Use the week leading up to Thanksgiving to set you up for success. Stay 100% compliant to your nutrition plan. Don’t restrict that week thinking you’re giving yourself wiggle room for the actual holiday. You’ll be mentally burnt out come Thursday leading to a worse binge. Get your veggies. Crush 25-30g fiber daily. Crush body weight in grams of protein. Eat whole foods, nothing processed.
3. EXERCISE. Exercise daily or at least twice before Thursday. On Thursday, get some form of exercise in. Most towns/cities do a Turkey Trot 5k. Walk in the neighborhood for 45 minutes. Do something to get the blood flowing. This will also manage some of that pre-holiday stress.
4. EAT BREAKFAST. Eat the morning of Thanksgiving. Get a breakfast full of protein and veggies. Eat only a few carbs and healthy fats to keep you moving through the day, but also to give you some wiggle room for the big meal. Eat every 3-4 hours beforehand to ensure you don’t walk into that Thanksgiving meal famished and ready to devour a whole pie for yourself.
5. DRINK WATER. Drink 50-60oz between waking up and your Thanksgiving meal. Have 8oz. 15 minutes before your meal and drink another 25-50oz between finishing your meal and bedtime.
6. PORTION. Get a little of everything. Be conservative. The food is going to be filling. Might as well put a ½ palm sized portion of everything you love to start rather than 2 handfuls that leaves your plate ready to break. You’ll be amazed at how full you still are with this method AND you’ll be satisfied after getting all of your favorites.
7. PRIORITIZE. Eat protein and veggies first before moving onto carbs and treats. You’ll get all the necessary nutrients first and will eat less of the sugary unhealthy foods.
8. PACE. Eat slowly! Talk in between bites. Chew food thoroughly. Don’t horse it down. Give your body time to digest the food you’re putting in it so it can start sending those “full signals” to your brain indicating it’s time to slow down and give your fork a break.
9. DON’T TRACK. Whatever you do, do not track your macros or calories. Don’t even look up “out of curiosity” how much you ate. It serves no purpose for your holiday and will not get you closer to achieving your goal. It will only stress you out and hey, we don’t want that! We track our macros/calories not to restrict us and force us into one mode for the rest of our life. We track macros to become aware of how much food our bodies actually need and to become aware of how little we were eating beforehand. Sustainable nutrition gives macros a break when appropriate.
10. ENJOY. Appreciate the love that fills your home. Love your family members for doing whatever they did to make the day special. Maybe they drove a few hours or flew home. Maybe they cooked the turkey. Maybe they took the time making sure you had your favorite dish there. I am allergic to gluten and my mom takes the time to make an extra gluten free stuffing and pumpkin pie so she gets allllll the love sent to her. Maybe they cleaned the house for days making sure things were perfect. Spend time doing THAT than stressing that two slices of pecan pie don’t fit your macros. Remember stress is bad for you, so stressing over the food you’re eating only makes it that much worse.
I’ll leave you with one final thought. I’ve said this plenty of times so maybe this time it will sink in. Valentine’s Day. Easter. 4th of July. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas.
That is 6 days.
Six whole days my friend! Out of 365 days of the year.
If you went 100% off track those 6 days, that is a 98% success rate in your nutrition for the year.
If you went 100% off track for those 6 days AND one day each month, then you were compliant, adherent AND successful 95% of the year.
Those “treat” meals (or days) don’t seem as detrimental now do they?
Enjoy your holiday season!! The general theme here is that a little splurging is okay and even encouraged!!!