Holiday Nutrition is TOUGH. Let’s just be honest here.
You’re traveling. Your Great-Aunt Mabel is a food pusher. Your family isn’t on the let’s-get-healthy bandwagon and is – at worst blatantly, or perhaps subconsciously – trying to derail your progress. Your workplace has begun to overflow with holiday goodies that you convince yourself are only available once per year. You’ve worked hard all year long and want to treat yourself.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned though…The better you treat yourself, the less you need to “treat” yourself.
Here are my Top 5 Tips for Holiday Nutrition
1. Work on reframing what a “treat” means to you.
Can you shift from thinking about food as a treat or the focus of the celebration to spending time with loved ones? And okay, maybe your uncle makes you want to dive headfirst into either the pie or a barrel of wine because he makes you angry or feel bad about yourself. But consider this…will stuffing yourself with food that doesn’t truly FEED you make you feel better or worse over the long run?
2. Start your day with exercise.
This one tip is critical to staying on track in my daily life and becomes even more important around the holidays. When I start my day with exercise I make better choices later in the day. Period. I’ve worked hard already and don’t want to mess it up…gaining momentum with exercise first thing in the morning carries me through the whole day. I also drink less alcohol at night if I know an early workout waits for me tomorrow.
3. Eat before you go out or offer to bring something to contribute.
If you’re heading out on the town, eat a small protein-dense meal before you go to make sure your nutrition is on-point. I’m not talking about a packaged protein bar here. Make yourself a small meal of 2 hard boiled eggs and an apple with a tablespoon of nut-butter and a FULL glass of water. The protein will satiate you (make your stomach tell your brain you’re full) so you won’t eat as much at the restaurant. Heading over to Grandma’s house? Offer to bring a side dish that is a healthy favorite of yours (let me know if you need suggestions!) or a fruit platter so you know there’s more than pie to satisfy your sweet tooth afterward.
4. Load up on Veggies and Protein.
This one ties in with #3 above. Veggies, good fats (like coconut oil and avocados) and protein all give you critical nutrients and trigger your satiety cues. Your system will tell your brain “okay, we’ve been given the fuel we need to function. You can slow down now” when you eat healthy, whole foods. But if you eat too many refined/overly processed items your body doesn’t get those critical building blocks and so the only cue you get is from volume, not quality.
To help you out, I’ve compiled my favorite, kid-tested-and-approved veggie recipes into a short e-book. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy!
5. The One Bite Rule.
Okay, so you’ve used all the other tips and you’ve made it to the dessert course. Here’s my best advice…allow yourself to have ONE bite of whatever it is you’ve been eye-balling all night. Eat it deliberately and then check in with yourself – was it as good as you thought it was going to be or was it just okay?
Now, be honest! If it was just “okay” then you have permission to stop. right. there. You don’t have to finish it. On the other hand, if you look forward to something all year long AND you’ve followed the other 4 nutrition tips here? Have ONE small serving and enjoy the heck out of it. Just make sure that one treat doesn’t yank you totally off course for the rest of the holiday.
This tip is a bit tricky and you have to know yourself well enough to understand if you will actually be able to stop after one bite. A few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do this and even now there are days where if I start I know I’ll have a hard time stopping. But with practice, this has become a great way to manage temptations by allowing myself one bite and then making my decision.
So what about you guys? Do you have a tip that has saved you a time or two? Share below!
And as always – I’m here if you need help getting a game plan in place BEFORE you’re faced with a sticky situation!