13 Tips To Stay On Track During The Holidays

I love the holidays. Okay, well, most of the holidays.

Some I would be perfectly happy skipping over.  But Thanksgiving and Christmas, those are my jam!  I love the feel of fall and winter. It brings about an emotional shift in me. Being an Arizona native, winter is but a small part of our year, so I embrace it fully.

As a mom, I’ve come to notice that the seasons begin to change at a perfect time. Just when we are sick of living in swimsuits and sunscreen, the weather begins to cool. Then, just as the fall has us on the edge of our seats waiting for freezing temperatures and cozy nights wrapped in blankets with Christmas stories and hot cocoa, winter emerges.

What the holiday season also brings is every single one of your favorite holiday treats and temptations. They are usually in every corner at work, dropped off by your super sweet retired neighbor (you know you have one), and on every grocery store end cap. It takes some serious willpower to turn away and say no to those once a year temptations. I know there are a million “How To Navigate The Holidays” guides out there. Many are awesome.  But many are lacking one thing.

stay on track during the holidays

Reality Of Life

What many holiday guides are missing is the reality of life. The reality that our real focus should be the other 360 ish days of the year where consistency truly matters. Don’t allow five holidays turn into three months of spillover from Thanksgiving to New Year’s to Super Bowl Sunday. I know these holidays are a special time to spend time with family and friends and enjoy those specialties.  But let’s be honest here — real results come with year-round consistency and not the willpower to say no to some of grandma’s “Christmas Crack” brittle (I know you know what I am talking about). Those things make me thankful I am gluten-free and can’t eat them.

I know darn well that most of my clients, and for that matter, most of the world, will indulge during the holidays.  Whether you’re trying to eat more wholesome food, or if you’re just hoping to not gain those few magical pounds of the season, I know you can follow my simple advice to get there.

With planning, education, knowledge, and flexibility, I know those that want to maintain their nutritional goals can maintain that mindset all year long. You can stay on track during the holidays, even when Aunt Ruth drops off her infamous holiday pumpkin roll (holy crap that thing is good!).

(Want to learn how to fill your body with real food to look and feel your best? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

13 Tips To Stay On Track During The Holidays

There are many easy ways to navigate your holiday with nutritional success. In fact, this list of do’s and don’ts is really a great lesson for all year round at those special events and social gatherings.

Here are my tips to help you stay on track during the holidays.

Do: Turn that “big meal” into just another meal.

In fact, have that small meal twice if you want. There is no reason to eat yourself to oblivion for one meal. Eat a small serving of the dishes you enjoy. Allow yourself and your body some time to digest and truly appreciate flavor and taste. Then, allow yourself to go back and have a second small serving if you still have the desire later on in the day. You will feel better with smaller portions and are less likely to overeat.

Do: Have food awareness of portion size. 

Be aware of the portion sizes of your food. If you aren’t familiar with the correct portion sizes you should be eating, familiarize yourself so you don’t feel the need to bust out the scale at Grandma’s house.

Do: Serve things separate.

If a recipe calls for cheese or pecans, try serving them next to the dish rather than on top. This will allow you and your guests to have better control of intake. Super bonus is that they can also create a dish they will enjoy more instead of picking off things they don’t love. It’s a win for everybody!

Don’t: Overindulge in creamy casseroles.

Cheese, heavy creams, and butter can make that unhealthy fat intake soar. I get it, creamy casseroles are delicious. But don’t sacrifice your hard work (and health) by going overboard! Fat is a good thing, but too much can be a bad thing!

Do: Plan for hidden sources of fat.

You won’t be in control of every entree or side dish you eat. So plan for those hidden sources of fat and make decisions accordingly.

Don’t: Expect yourself to say no to every treat.

Wine and great conversation will be flowing and pretty soon all inhibitions are gone and so is the entire pumpkin cheesecake. Be honest and realize you will want something sweet to top off that amazing meal. Plan ahead for it!

Do: Plan ahead for the things you really want to enjoy.

Don’t lie to yourself and say you won’t enjoy a treat. Plan ahead and commit to a small serving, nothing more. This will also give you something to look forward to.

Don’t: Fly by the seat of your pants.

If you have a mental plan for the things at the top of your list that you want to enjoy, you will navigate the meal with greater success. You will have a plan on things that you should likely avoid and can serve yourself things that best support your goals. Know your food boundaries and decide ahead of time on the foods you plan to pass over to support your goals.

Do: Eat more protein.

Most people don’t take in enough protein on a day-to-day basis. This variable is even further magnified at a holiday meal when dishes are usually packed with carbohydrates and fat, and protein is scarce.  Make sure protein is present on your plate. Plus, who doesn’t love those Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey and hams?

Don’t: Drink your calories. 

Alcohol not only has hidden calories but it lowers your inhibitions, and with it, your food awareness.  Enjoy a few drinks, nice and slow, along with your meal.

Do: Have a hearty and lean breakfast. 

Before the big event, have a hearty and lean breakfast you aren’t starving beforehand. Being conservative in consumption leading up to a big meal is good but being HANGRY will leave you eating everything! Have a large omelet with egg whites, lots of veggies, lean Canadian Bacon and berries on the side to start your day off in the right direction.

Do: Bring a dish or dishes you know YOU can enjoy.  

If you are a guest at a house whose cooking may be on the heavy side, contribute by bringing along dishes that fit your needs like some bacon brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, or other roasted root veggies. You can even bring something like a fall salad. You’d be surprised at how many people want in on something light that makes them feel good and helps fill their tummies!

Don’t: Miss out on the celebration because you are lost in accuracy.  

Here is the reality, there is a difference in going into a meal with an “I don’t care” attitude versus being “food aware.” Find balance in the holiday and your goals so you end the night with a “Heck ya—I had a great time and enjoyed every bite of my food” rather than major food guilt. At the end of the day, you deserve to treat yourself and have a good time. And you don’t have to sacrifice your goals to do that.

True Results

True results come from the effort you make day-to-day. It isn’t one holiday or one meal that will make or break you, but the consistency you have day-to-day and the food awareness you have in social situations that yields true results. It is enjoying that special day. But it’s also having the knowledge and willpower to make that one day remain just that, one day.

Enjoy your holiday, find balance and then set yourself right back up for success the day after. If you are ready to make changes to your nutrition this holiday season, check out my favorite gifts for a nutrition newbie or nut (like me).

What do you do to stay on track with your nutritional goals during the holidays?

Work Hard Be Kind,


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