I just want to say before I start that I am actually pretty tired of people coming up with posts and tips about “How to SURVIVE the Holidays” when related to diet and food intake. Take a second to think about your holiday traditions. I’m sure that most of these revolve around food, bring back great memories and make you excited for this time of year to rapidly be approaching. In my mind, I don’t want to just survive the holidays, I want to enjoy them…fully.
That being said, I thought it would be great to give out some tips about how to look at them with a balanced approach.
1. To track or not to track?
This is probably the biggest debate out there regarding the holidays. The strict flexible dieters (the old me) would say “Absolutely you need to track! Weight everything, measure everything and stick to your macros as closely as possible!”
The “new” flexible dieter in me say, “Absolutely not“. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Holiday parties are meant to be enjoyed primarily in the social aspect. Bringing your food scale and measuring your food throughout the evening cannot be done discretely and honestly, it’s not necessary.
Unless you’ve got a big weight lifting competition coming up or a body building show, there’s absolutely no reason why you need to track that mean. But, on the flip side, this does not give you the opportunity to go crazy. Eyeball your portions, load up on proteins and veggies, and add in a sprinkling of your favorite things. You don’t need to eat the whole sweet potato casserole, but it’s definitely reasonable to have a spoonful and taste a little bit of everything.
2. Realize that the food will still be there.
Remember the all you could eat buffet at college?? THIS IS NOT THAT. The food will still be there for seconds, thirds or even fourths if you’re still hungry. You do not need to go crazy and load up on a ton of food the first time around. I like to try a little bit of everything but stick with the things that I love in small portions. That way, if I do get hungry again, I won’t ever feel bad about going back for more. You also won’t get to that “I feel so completely stuffed that I can’t even move” point.
3. Eat dessert.
Yes, you read that right. I fully encourage trying everything during the Holidays. And again, you don’t have to have a full slice of pie, you can have a few bites or even a quarter piece. Everything in moderation.
4. Eat mindfully.
This is a big one and sometimes one that takes some time to learn. Approach the meal and really enjoy everything that you’re eating. When you’re getting full and can feel that sensation, slow down. Take a break between dinner and dessert to digest and allow you to really enjoy the dessert. I know this sounds like common sense, but so many people just shove food into their mouths without realizing how full they actually are!
5. Don’t stress about it.
One day off of the plan, off of your macros, or not tracking is not going to totally derail your progress – I can promise you that. You will not gain 4 lbs of fat in one day. You might gain 4 lbs of water weight secondary to the large amount of sodium used in cooking, but it’ll come right off in a few days.
Stick with your normal healthy foods in the morning/afternoon if you know that you’re going to have a big dinner in the evening. Save up some fat and carbs for the good stuff, but try to still get all of your protein in for the day. Drink plenty of water throughout the day so that you’re fully hydrated and can enjoy the evening without worry.
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So I hope you’ll find these tips and my approach to the holidays helpful. This is already a stressful time of the year with buying gifts and entertaining family – don’t stress yourself out even more by freaking out about your diet. Enjoy the “once of the year” treats – but don’t go crazy.
You can definitely still make progress through the holidays and yet still enjoy all of the gatherings you have planned. You just gotta find that balance!