5 Ways to Navigate Nutrition during the Holidays

We all know going into the holidays can be tricky when it comes to nutrition. You suddenly get access to different foods than we have all year, the mentality is very much the ‘last supper’ mentality, where you eat without regard to health or mindfulness or how you’re feeling; all the while saying to yourself ‘I’ll just reset in January’. I want to go over a few tips that’ll help navigate the holidays so you can still focus on health but also enjoy those yummy foods, because I want that for you. I want to you be able to eat the treats you want and enjoy them, while also still feeling good, maintaining good health, digestion, sleep and supporting your workouts well.

Here are some tips to get through the holidays and come out on the other side feeling good, satisfied, and still in line with your goals.

  1. Get off the scale

Your weight will fluctuate with seasons. It’s normal. Our bodies are not meant to be the same size during all seasons and phases of life. Your weight could actually change up to 5 pounds in ONE DAY just based on the type of food you ate, if you’re a woman on her period, or if you’re dehydrated or not. All of those pieces factor into your weight. Watching it day to day during a time when more food might be consumed, will make you obsessive and more stressed. More stress = more inflammation = more weight gain. It’s a perpetuated cycle that will only continue by constantly checking and obsessing over weight. So get off the scale this holiday season.

2. Allow yourself to enjoy these holiday goodies year round

This time of year we have access to a lot more ‘play’ foods. Foods that we don’t typically have throughout the year. We can develop a ‘last supper’ mentality. This means we eat ALL the things the last 2-3 months of the year with the mentality of ‘I’ll just reset in January’. This last supper mentality can happen if you’re too restrictive for a while and if you don’t allow ourselves the occasional treat then you ‘break’ and eat everything and then come January, you’re starting all over again. This is why it’s important to allow yourself to eat these normally ‘play foods’ throughout the year. Remember at Halloween, you can literally have candy any time of year. If you feel like getting a Reese’s in June, get a pack of Reese’s and enjoy it. Then you won’t feel the need to eat 10 of them at once in October. If you love pumpkin pie, make one in February–also you might have easier access to the ingredients because not everyone will be making them–and eat that pie in February. If you love a certain kind of Christmas cookie, make it in the summer. Eating these foods throughout the year, and going through the holiday season knowing, ‘hey, I can literally have these any time I want’, lessens the desire for them during these next couple of months so you don’t have to cram all those special foods into only two months of the year.

Now, I know there are some things you won’t get all year round…maybe it’s that special cake your Gma makes and it takes forever and it’s somehow only yummy when she makes it, obviously that’s a special case. But you can still be mindful around those kind of ‘play’ foods. A few tips when eating these ‘play’ foods are

  • don’t be too hungry when eating them (being too hungry can easily lead to eating too quickly w/o paying attention to our fullness cues)
  • portion them out (don’t eat them straight off the serving plate or out of the bag)
  • eat not distractedly (turn off the TV, put down the phone and focus on what you’re doing…eating)
  • stop when 80% full (this will allow your stomach to catch up and tell your brain when it’s comfortably full instead of overly full)
  • you can freeze most things. If you have a ton of leftovers and feel you need to eat it all before it goes bad, freeze some of it. Freeze turkey, casseroles, pies, cookies. That way you can only get some out when you need and want it and you don’t need to eat it all before it goes bad.

3. Don’t fast going into an event

Don’t let yourself get too hungry before events, dinners, family gatherings, etc. Yes, you want to eat the yummy food. Yes, you want to be hungry for them. But please don’t fast all day in preparation for an event because you will end up starving, and so hungry, you won’t be able to focus on the foods you actually want to try and enjoy. You’ll just want to eat everything in sight. Which is easy to do especially at a buffet style event when all the food is out and you’re standing right next to it.

4. Be mindful around what you eat

Fill a plate with the food you want, and eat what’s on your plate. Don’t stand next to the chip bowl or cookie tray and casually graze. You’re not focusing on what you’re eating when you’re doing that, you’re not focusing on fullness cues when you’re doing that. So fill your plate with what you want, and eat off your plate.

5. Don’t make any huge body-related goals the next few months

Be realistic and recognize that this is a time of year that more food will be consumed. This is not a time to make unrealistic goals of shredding or cutting back or dropping weight. Instead, focus on adding things. Add more vegetables, drink more water, go to bed earlier to get more sleep.

All in all, try and minimize the stress this holiday season by just tuning in. Be realistic in your goals and mindful around your eating habits. Listen to your body when it’s telling you it’s full. Or eat that extra piece of pie and know that it will be totally worth being a little overfly full. 😊

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