The holidays: the time of year where you have an event what seems like almost every weekend and there’s an abundance of food that’s calling your name with a nice pairing of alcohol to complement it. They’re commonly known for being everyone’s favorite time of the year, but our bodies absolute least favorite. It’s hard to stay on track, to continuously avoid certain foods that may be around only during this time of year, and to feel like you’re missing out on something just because you want to watch your nutrition. Frankly, it’s the time where most people stop or at least hit the pause button on their diets or weekly nutrition regimens. You don’t have to be 100% strict or 100% not. You don’t have to either eat it all or avoid absolutely everything. There are ways to survive the holidays and this time of year without being mad at yourself after they’re over, without having to feel like you’re back to square one and start completely over again.
1. You’re out of town: This one is tough for so many people because a lot of families travel throughout the holidays. It can be definitely be tough if you’re staying at a hotel or a relative’s house that has far from the resources or the food that are going to be beneficial to your diet. Not everyone wants to pack for every meal and be that person. Completely understandable.
Key advice: Start your day with a quick workout. Walk to the coffee shop, jog around the neighborhood, or maybe a mini bodyweight WOD. It’s a perfect way to flush out the bad stuff you may have indulged in the night before and to kick start your metabolism for that day. Pack easy snacks, think protein bars (Quest, Power Crunch, etc.), protein powder, a pack of almonds, jerky, etc. Easy snacks are great to have so you’re not starving by the time you get to the next meal.
2. A family or friend party: Everyone’s bringing an appetizer or a dish or your family might even have a 10-course meal catered from a local spot. This one can be really tough because there’s more than likely going to be a plethora of things you enjoy, such as the buffalo chicken dip, the dinner rolls, or Grandma’s famous dessert. It can be overwhelming and pretty easy to snack on literally everything,
Key advice: Most importantly, don’t starve yourself. If it’s more of a dinner party, think small portions. If you’re someone that likes to have a little bit of everything, that’s great, but try to take smaller servings to save yourself an uncomfortable stomach. Even play a trick on your mind and load a small plate, so it seems like you’re having more. Don’t feel like you can’t indulge, but also don’t look at the party as an excuse to eat a gargantuan amount of what’s in front of you. If it’s more of an appetizer/self-serving party, try to eat a small meal before. Take small bites of things and maybe a few tastes here and there, but eating before will save your stomach from being starving and indulging in a whole crockpot full of your friend’s dip.
3. Alcohol: This is obviously a huge part of any social gathering, especially during this time of year. Your friend made sangria, your buddy has this new beer he’s dying for you to try, or Bailey’s and hot chocolate are calling your name during the first winter storm. It’s tempting and there’s usually a great deal of holiday options that can be hard to pass up.
Key advice: Don’t feel like you have to shy away, but ask for a cup and pour yourself a small serving of it. Bring your own alcohol and try to stick to a healthier option: regular vodka with some water, crystal light, and lemon/limes is easy and light, a 6-pack of light beer for you and your significant other or friend to split, or a bottle of dry red wine can have greater health benefits for you than the sweet stuff.
4. Multiple Christmases/Thanksgivings: if you’re in a relationship and/or have a large family, chances are you’re going to have multiple celebrations for numerous holidays. Sometimes, it can be extremely exhausting, and then to try to think of eating healthy during each of them can be tough. You have to go to your in-laws and your parents, or your dad’s side and then your mom’s side; either way, it can be a lot of parties, with a lot of food, in a short span of time.
Key advice: Load up on the veggies and try to pick a nicer option of meat (turkey, burger without the bun, little to no sauce, etc.) Tons of green beans, asparagus, a large salad with the “better” choice of dressing, veggie tray, or even some corn paired with a small heap of mashed potatoes are okay. They can help fill you up so you’re not too tempted to have a large piece of pie or one too many rolls/slices of bread on the side.
The bottom line: don’t feel like you can’t enjoy yourself around the holidays and don’t dread going to certain parties because you think you’ll be too tempted to make poor food choices. Many of us are in the same boat, and eating healthy can be a struggle, but as long as you do the best you can and make a conscious effort to adjust to your surrounding environment, you can definitely prevent having to do damage control after the holidays are over. Enjoy yourself, just don’t put yourself in a situation you may end up regretting later!