While the data about holiday weight gain is conflicting, we can all agree that even if we do maintain our normal weight over the holiday season, it’s a heck of a lot harder to do with workplace treats, holiday parties, and enormous family feasts around every corner. Some dietitians might try to encourage you to reduce all of the fat, carbs, and calories in all of your meals this holiday season – but that is not our style!
We also don’t think it’s appropriate to give everyone reading this the exact same information. So, let’s do a little self analysis first and then give you a few strategies to pick from to use as your blue print for health during this upcoming holiday season.
The Past: Get out paper and pen. Write down how you historically deal with your health over the holidays. Do you stay consistent with your nutrition, exercise, and sleep? If one or more of these fall to the wayside, what has that looked like for you in years past? How did previous holidays make you feel about your health/weight/energy/etc.? How did you feel in January? How do you wish you would have felt differently?
The Present: Now that you have reflected on holiday seasons past, I want you to take a few more minutes to write about how you feel in the present about your health. Have you been working towards a health goal recently? Do you feel equipped to work towards that goal over the holiday or is maintenance a more realistic goal? How will you feel if you let the holidays ruin your progress? How will you feel if you devise a holiday strategy to stay on course?
The Future: Now it’s time to pick a strategy for this year. These are a few ideas to get you started but you can always mix and match or devise a totally original strategy that will be just right for you.
Strategy #1: Be mindful of your intake, even on the holidays. This is not usually our first recommendation because we find that most people like to participate in the holidays by celebrating with food. However, if you are honest with yourself and you know that indulging on the holidays will derail you for weeks (or maybe even months!) then sticking to your guns might be your best strategy. This is obviously easier said than done. Please reach out to us if we can help.
Strategy #2: Treat the holidays like the actual few days that they are and not as a reason to eat treats and vats of dip every day from Halloween through New Years. This is a more middle of the road strategy and for people who have the ability to eat healthfully most days of the holiday season, eat anything they want on Thanksgiving Day, and resume a usual eating schedule bright and early on Black Friday. One party or one day or one weekend will not sabotage our goals but an 8-week string of them will.
Strategy #3: Add, don’t subtract. A lot of healthy holiday advice will recommend cutting back on unhealthy holiday ingredients. We think it is more important to be consciously ADDING colorful vegetables to your diet, especially throughout the holidays. Holiday food choices are already abundant in proteins (think turkey and ham) and carbohydrates (looking at you, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie!) but severely lacking in vegetable options. Make veggies your only goal. And remember that bringing your own veggie side dish is the best way to guarantee you will have a veggie option.
For more holiday tips and more creative ways to add veggies to your holiday season, we’ve developed the Summerfield Custom Wellness “Happy & Healthy Holidays Guide”. If you need help staying on track this season, contact us to schedule an appointment!