How do I keep up with good nutrition during the holidays? A question we always seem to ask when special occasions or holiday weeks roll around! This can be a tricky question for sure. I will always stand with the opinion that holidays are meant to be enjoyed and if that means eating a few extra sweets than normal, or indulging in more food than you usually would, so be it. The key is making these days an exception to the rule, and making these decisions mindfully.
Here are a few suggestions I’ve got to enjoy Thanksgiving this week without ending the weekend feeling sick, bloated, and discouraged:
Oftentimes when you are on the road rather than in your own home and routine, you don’t have as much control over what and when you eat. This can be countered by a few planning ahead strategies. Thoughtfully consider what your biggest hurdles may be, and what you could do to overcome them. For example:
- If you’re worried about getting protein in at every meal amongst all the simple carb snacks and treats – pack a couple protein bars, some single servings of your favorite protein powder in a small container or Ziploc bag (or some brands even offer an on the go packet containing one serving which makes things even easier), make a batch of cashew cookies, energy bars, or another homemade recipe, etc. Now you’ve got your own source of protein packed breakfasts, snacks, etc.
- If you’re worried about getting enough veggies during the day – pack some veggie bags and ask if you can stick them in the fridge wherever you are staying, volunteer to make a side dish at one of your holiday meals and make sure its got some of those veggies you don’t want to miss out on, or consider buying a greens supplement you can take with you on the road and use while you’re off your routine.
The examples could go on and on, but the point is—you can easily avoid many of the challenges you will face by spending some time going over the obstacles you may face and making a game plan to overcome them. This goes for getting your workouts in over the weekend as well. Planning is key!
In social settings, it can be very easy to lose track of how much food or sweets you have actually eaten. When you choose to indulge in grandma’s rolls, a rich dessert, or a handful of sweets from the candy jar—make sure you take the time to enjoy what you’re eating. Don’t swallow the roll whole only to realize it’s gone and you barely got to taste it. That’s a formula for eating four or five rolls and then regretting it later. Rather, savor the roll, truly taste it, enjoy it, wait to talk until you’ve finished your bite, and then if you end up eating four or five—that’s perfectly fine, but you’ve made a conscious choice to eat each roll and you are able to appreciate each and every bite! This is probably one of the hardest tips to master, but the more you practice the easier it becomes, and if you’ve been practicing habit 1 you’ll already have a head start!
It’s okay to say no
Eat the things you want to eat. Just because something is on the table or being offered to you, does not mean you have to eat it! Saying “no thank you” can be an uncomfortable thing for many, and this is another tip that takes practice, but again—the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Don’t play the mental games
Even if you fail at all the other tips above, and you throw every single habit out the door over the entire holiday – give yourself a clean slate. Don’t beat yourself up and definitely don’t feel like a failure. It is what it is, there’s no going back, and now it’s time to focus on the future and the things you CAN do.