Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season in the United States - a time where most people get together with their families, friends, and coworkers to celebrate and enjoy themselves. However it is also generally characterized by indulgence in food and drink - huge potlucks, social drinking, etc and a lot of confusion for those who are dieting or trying to make nutritious choices. Should I be enjoying myself and ignoring the calorie counters or should I be minimizing the impact of my eating and drinking choices during the season? Unfortunately there's no "right" answer because it depends a lot on your goals, but let's shed some light on some of the misconceptions around the holidays and some tips on trying to make good choices.
- Enjoy yourself! This is the most important part of being with friends and family and having to constantly worry about what you are eating only reinforces a bad relationship with food. If you make reasonable choices on a daily basis but indulge during holiday parties and family gatherings you won't "set yourself back" or "completely destroy your progress" - so keep the scale at home, stay off MyFitnessPal, and don't look at the nutrition facts!
- You don't need to "earn" your calories. Yes, there is a basic balance of calories in and calories out, however if you force yourself to work out in order to allow yourself to eat that meal later, you're again only going to develop an unhealthy relationship between food and exercise. If you miss a workout or two during the holidays - don't sweat it! Your body is a much better regulator of overindulgence than you might realize and despite any possible spike you may see during the holidays, it quickly settles once back into a regular state.
- Despite the discussion of indulgence above - don't let it get out of hand! Habits are what create healthy living: going to the gym regularly at a specific time, eating at specific times through the day, eating specific types of meals, etc - but bad habits are easy to create during the holidays and left unchecked can spiral out of control. An example of this is the multitude of sweets that might make its way into your workplace - if you just have one, or two, or three of those cookies, and you start doing that every day, then you are creating a habit that teaches your body to expect these high sugar carbohydrates, leading to additional cravings - even after the holidays! Think about what you are doing.
Now some tips on how to stay healthy even during the holidays. It's important to realize that these tips are not meant to restrict you into eating a certain way, or not enjoying yourself, but are rather some ideas to help you maintain some regularity through the holidays.
- Stick with your fitness. Take advantage of holiday classes and schedules, drop in on other boxes if traveling, or even go for a jog or participate in a fun holiday 5K. This will help you feel better and loose even through long holiday weeks.
- Eat what you want, but don't eat until you hurt!
- Try to avoid grazing, its very easy to continuously snack through the day, but try to sit down and eat real meals when possible, taking time to really enjoy the meal and digest it.
- If trying to maintain or lose weight through the holidays, focus on high nutritional value foods first and then progress to more indulgent foods. Don't skip the dessert! But you don't necessarily need a whole pie by yourself either ;)
- If drinking, make sure to actively drink water to reduce the day after hangover, and where possible try to reduce drinking closer to sleep as it greatly affects REM sleep and feeling restful.
- Stay on track during the weekdays, relying on very simple meal prep can really help this while also utilizing leftovers to get the best bang for your buck.
These are just a few tips for the holidays, we hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!
Remember, we are always here to help with your nutrition! If you have any questions or would like our help dialing in what and how much you should be eating, talk with us next time you're in the gym or email us firstname.lastname@example.org