For anyone that is trying to diet, has struggled with an eating disorder, or has any sort of food sensitivity or allergy, the holiday season can be an extremely stressful time of year. There are always more social events going on, more temptation to drink alcohol, and more temptation to eat things that you wouldn’t normally eat. I’m here to tell you – DON’T FREAK OUT!!!
Easy for me to say, I know. But let me tell you something: I’ve been there before.
Here are some of my top tips for maintaining a healthy relationship with food during the holidays.
First things first – please remember that the holidays are meant to be enjoyed!
Spending time with your loved ones should be fun. Sure, sometimes that includes having a slice of grandma’s famous apple pie – and that’s ok! Not to be morbid, but how many more chances will you have to experience grandma’s famous apple pie? Hopefully plenty more, but ya never know! Remember to enjoy it while you can. The gym and MyFitnessPal will be there when the holidays are over.
It’s okay to say no!
If there’s a social event that you don’t necessarily want to go to, skip it. By doing this, you’re not only minimizing temptation when it comes to food and drink, but also protecting your social battery by not putting yourself in a situation that you didn’t really want to be in in the first place. “It’s okay to say no” also applies to food and drink in general. If you’re at a social event where people may be trying to pressure you into eating or drinking things that you’d rather not, you can say no and you do not owe them an explanation.
Mocktails can be your best friend
If you have that one friend that’s extremely overbearing about wanting everyone to drink alcohol and thinks you’re being a buzzkill if you don’t have a vodka soda in your hand, just have a soda but hold the vodka. Your friend will probably get too drunk to notice anyways and if anyone has an issue with it, then I’m going to go a head and guess that they’re not a great friend anyways.
Use the buddy system!
There is no better advice I can give you than to have someone there to support you and talk you through any stress that may pop up at an event. Especially if you’re having anxiety about going to an event, driving there with someone and expressing how you’re feeling can be a game changer. Now let’s be clear, I’m not saying that your buddy should be babysitting you all night making sure you don’t have a piece of cake or a White Claw. However, if you decide that you might want a piece of cake and a White Claw but you’re feeling stressed about it, your buddy can intervene and be a sounding board for you. You may decide that you want the cake and the Claw and your buddy’s there to tell you that’s ok.
Your thoughts and feelings are valid
We all have our own unique relationships with food and alcohol. Just because someone doesn’t understand yours doesn’t mean that it’s “wrong,” but please also remember that they truly may not be able to understand – and that’s okay, too.
The level of stress that we feel when it comes to eating the right food during the holidays correlates to our level of self-awareness, nutritional knowledge, and our relationship with food and alcohol. During this time, I like to remind all my clients that in order to gain 1lb. of FAT, you would need to eat 3500 calories over your maintenance calories. For the average person that’s ~5500 calories total. Please keep that in mind if you step on the scale the morning after a holiday party and it says that you’ve gained 3lbs. It’s not fat (unless you really did it 12,500 calories the day before…). In that case, I would be highly impressed and you truly should enter some sort of eating competition.
The point is: some holiday desserts and drinks will not ruin your progress.
We only start to go backwards when the holidays are over and we have convinced ourselves that we’ve lost all our progress so we might as well continue to eat whatever we want and not exercise. But that’s a conversation for January 2nd!