Nutrition Tips to Survive the Holidays
As the holiday season approaches, we look forward to celebrations, rest, and reunions. With increased social engagements, routine fluctuations, and increased stress and pressure, it also poses its own challenges. The holidays shouldn’t sabotage your progress since you’ve worked hard and are committed to your goals. It’s important to enjoy yourself, not feel restricted, but also honour your decisions. Fortunately, the holidays won’t slow your progress, and we’re about to show you how with our four holiday food survival strategies.
Planning is an oldie but a goodie for a reason – it works! When you prepare ahead of time, you can improve your performance, increase your confidence, and proactively respond to challenges. While planning ahead takes some effort and time, it’s straightforward:
- Get clear on your nutrition holiday goals
Are you sticking to your current food plan or allowing for some leeway? Be specific about what’s changing. You will be extra strict the week of the holiday party so you can enjoy whatever you want when the time comes. You will add 1-2 extra workouts per week in December. Maybe you are keeping everything the same and are stoked to test it out.
- Make a list of what you’ll need to achieve your goals
- You are bringing your workout tools with you or adapting your routine to be equipment-free if you’ll be travelling.
- You are bringing healthy snacks with you so you won’t be tempted by baked goods in the break room.
- You are eating a nutritious, complete breakfast and lunch before the big family dinner.
- You are checking the menu ahead of time so you know exactly what you’ll be ordering.
- You are drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day to ensure you are well hydrated.
- Celebrate your success
You made a plan and stuck to it, way to go! Enjoy your achievements. If you didn’t follow the plan, go easy on yourself. Get curious about it: What could you have done differently? What will you need next time to have it go the way you want? Every step is an opportunity to learn.
Respect your boundaries
The holiday season is a time to celebrate culture, history, and build community. It can be both magical and complicated at this time of year. You may find yourself slipping back into old, familiar habits. Luckily, you’ve already made a plan and are set with your holiday goals. Getting clear with yourself first before you get influenced by others makes sticking to your boundaries easier. Respecting your boundaries is often about saying ‘no’. This can be uncomfortable at first and takes practice so go easy on yourself. If there is someone you feel comfortable sharing with that can back you up when you need it, like a sibling, cousin, or close co-working, tell them ahead of time. You have the right to say no to a second helping, or a cocktail without explanation. Try these helpful phrases:
- “That looks delicious. I’m not hungry right now, but I’ll have some later.”
- “The food was so good … I literally could not eat another bite.”
- “No, thank you. I just wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate it right now.”
- “I’m too full right now, but I’d love to take a slice home.” (This is a smart one if you don’t want to be tempted to opt for seconds and thirds).
- “No thank you, I’m the designated driver tonight.”
- “I already have a drink, thanks.”
You got this! Be patient and graceful with yourself as you practice a new habit.
Create new traditions, not based on food
Let’s be honest -holiday gatherings are typically based on food. There are office holiday dinners, a break room filled with homemade treats, family dinners, and seasonal baking. Create new traditions that are not so food-centric:
- Dancing instead of hanging around the buffet table
- Making a point to mingle more and talk to new people
- Adopting a new outdoor hobby, like cold plunging
- Getting your group out for a long walk in the afternoon instead of sitting around picking at the cheese tray and boxes of chocolates
- Crafting, making decorations like wreaths and ornaments
- Playing board games
- Watching movies
- Walking/driving around looking at lights
- Volunteer at clothing drive or food bank
- Writing letters or creating care packages for seniors
- Doing chores for a neighbour
- Donating blood
- Hiking, skiing, or fat-biking
Find a buddy or coach
Surviving the holidays can be tough on your own, which is why it’s always a wise idea to find a buddy or coach for extra support. Get moving with your significant other, make a plan with your gym buddy, or book a few sessions with a personal trainer or life coach. You want to stay motivated, on track, and accountable. Continuous dedication is more rewarding when you have a buddy to share in your success.
The holidays can be an excuse to fall off track or a great opportunity to strengthen your resolve. You’ve had all those foods before, you’re not missing anything by passing them up. You’ve created new habits, and a healthier lifestyle, and you’re thriving. Bring this passion into the holiday season, that’s the best gift you can give yourself.