Navigating food and alcohol during the holidays!

In 10 days the holiday season will officially kick off with Thanksgiving.  This is the time of year when decadent foods are abundant. They’re everywhere!
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How can you get through the season without gaining weight?  

Does it stress you out just thinking about all of the tempting foods?

Would you like to at least maintain your weight during the holiday season?

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We’ve got some ideas to help you:

1. Focus on time with friends and family.  During the holidays you will likely see more people that you haven’t seen throughout the year so why not focus on catching up with them?  You can even go for a walk outside with a friend or family member and get some N.E.A.T. (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) in so you can ensure your energy expenditure stays high. You can even schedule a walking meeting at work.  I promise you’ll be more productive!

2. Plan some fun activities that aren’t centered around food.  Go ice skating, cross-country skiing, visit a festive display of lights or plants/trees, volunteer time to help a social service agency.  Visit to find volunteering opportunities anywhere.  Tis’ the season of giving, so why not give some time to a good cause?

3. Pack some food and make some food. If you are traveling somewhere for the holidays, pack some snacks to ensure you have some food available at all times. Pack fruit, protein bars, beef jerky, in case you get stuck in an airport or are in traffic with no food in site. You can also go grocery shopping when you get to your destination to ensure you have food on hand that you want and choose to eat.  Lastly, why not offer to make something so you have at least one option that fits your macros!

4. Develop a rating scale for the food items that are really worth eating.  If your Aunt Edna’s creamed onions are a 2 out of 10 on a taste and pleasure scale, don’t eat them just because they’re on the table.  If homemade pumpkin pie is a 10 out of 10 for you, then eat the pumpkin pie. You can even say to yourself “That’s not my food (the creamed onions)” or “I’m saving some macros/calories for the food I truly enjoy”. Enjoy every bite with no self-judgment.

5. Step away from the food.  At some holiday party’s food is sitting out for the entire duration of the party (usually an abundance of food).  This can lead to mindless grazing while you’re busy conversing with other party-goers. What can you do to navigate the situation?

a) Survey the food choices before filling your plate

b) Start with vegetables and lean protein, then finish off your plate with the higher fat items so your portion sizes are smaller

c) Sit down in a room away from the food so you are not tempted to graze

6. Maintain your regular exercise schedule. If you are traveling for the holidays, find a gym that is close to where you are staying so you can keep your exercise routine.  Since most people increase their caloric intake in the last 6 weeks of the year, it is even more important to stay active. You can even recruit a friend or family member to join you.

7. Reach out for support. Communicate with someone who is supportive of your goals. If you are feeling tempted to eat something that you don’t want to eat, reach out to a friend or your nutrition coach.  Text them, call them, meet up for some holiday shopping, or go see some festive lights. This time of year, you may need extra support and accountability.

8. Slow down. Relax!  The holidays are typically very hectic for most people.  When you are eating, slow down. Heck, just slow down in general.  Read a book, take a nap, watch some football, or build a fire in the fireplace.  Savor the food you’re eating and thoroughly taste your food. Sit down when you eat (no standing) and stay at the table after eating and enjoy each other’s company.  

9. Have a game plan before you eat or drink alcohol.  Before you head to a party or a holiday gathering or a meal, plan what you would like to eat and drink.  There are several strategies that may work, so pick one that resonates with you.

a) For breakfast and lunch eat more protein and vegetables since the evening meals are more likely to be full of fats, denser carbs, and alcohol.

b) Have a plan for how many drinks you would like to consume before you get to the party. If you would normally have 3-4 drinks, reduce your intake to 1-2 and alternate with sparkling water.  If you drink a light spirit with soda water, nobody will notice the difference when you switch to just sparkling water.

c) Don’t count macros for a FEW planned meals over the holidays.  On Thanksgiving, if you would like to eat some pie and stuffing with gravy, do it.

d) You may want to eat a light snack a few hours before a large and decadent meal so that you are less likely to binge or over-eat.  

What should you do if you ate more than you wanted to? Get right back to your plan.
Remember, this is about building habits and being consistent over time. Be kind to yourself and move on. 

Whatever this looks like for you, do it.

Enjoy the holidays!