Holidays are a special time. A time to be with family, loved ones and create lasting, happy memories. And inevitability, food will always be a part of any celebration or tradition – there’s really no way around it. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, you will probably find yourself surrounded by mounds of cookies, tables of treats, and gallons of egg nog. You’re not wrong to want it, we all want it. But this is undoubtedly the time of year where your relationship with food is put to the ultimate test. So the question is – how is your relationship with food?
With Thanksgiving a few days away, it’s common to wonder how you find balance between living your life and staying on track with your fitness goals. If you have been tracking macros for a while, you probably will be mindful of what you are eating on Thanksgiving day. But if you are new to tracking, or get anxiety about it, I’ve put together some tips to help get you through this particular holiday.
Personally, I only track protein on Thanksgiving and try to enjoy myself the rest of the day. Now this doesn’t mean I binge, I just stay mindful (even before the big day, read on). Because let’s be honest, if you binge, you are more likely to have Thanksgiving food remorse (as well as a serious food coma). So without further ado, here’s what we can do strengthen our relationship with food, stay and track and avoid holiday food guilt.
Eat less calories throughout the week (but still hit your protein): Eating a little less throughout the week will help bring down your weekly average of calories consumed.
Add in a few light cardio sessions: Burn a few extra calories with a brisk walk, light jog or maybe some yoga. I like to add in a couple 20 minute sessions the days leading up to the holiday.
Eat a light breakfast: Rather than eating a giant breakfast followed by a Thanksgiving dinner, go easy on yourself. Instead, choose something light that still has a good amount of protein. I usually reach for a protein shake or eggs and toast.
Be picky: Prioritize your favorites. Keep in mind that you don’t have to try everything (you aren’t obligated!). Instead, pick your favorites. Are the candied sweet potatoes your favorite? Or maybe it’s grandma’s favorite stuffing? Think about your “must haves” and stick to it.
Start with proteins: Load your plate with turkey (or choice of proteins), first. That way, you’ll be more likely to hit your protein goal for the day.
Lighten up: Make note of high sugar foods (pie, desserts) and drinks (alcohol, juice) or items that are covered in heavy dressing or sauce (butter, cream, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing). You don’t have to skip out on these foods, just try to be a little aware of how much you eat.
Slow down: It’s not a race. Take your time to enjoy your food. Listen to your body to see when you are full. Seems obvious, but try to eat only when you are truly hungry.
Use a smaller plate: This is an easy trick to take smaller portions. And when you use a smaller plate, it actually feels like you are eating more food (vs using a larger plate that looks half empty).
It’s OK to say no: You have permission to politely decline a second (or third!) dessert serving. Don’t feel obligated to take food just because someone else is encouraging you to do so. In the end, you make your own decisions.
Drink more water: Water can help you feel more full and help with holiday bloat. A lot of people forget to drink water and just go straight to the holiday drinks, but it’s important to drink a little more than you normally would.
Enjoy: Remember what Thanksgiving is about – being thankful and appreciating the time you have with the ones you love. Tell yourself that you deserve to enjoy your holiday meal without guilt. It’s definitely not about tracking food and obsessing over what you eat. So enjoy it.
After Thanksgiving Day
Shaming only makes things worse: So let’s say you indulged a bit too much. Shaming doesn’t motivate or lead to change, it will only make things worse. Stop berating yourself and try to be kind to yourself. We’ve all been there, and it’s not the end of the world! I promise.
Get RIGHT back on track: Here is the hard part for most people. Sometimes a holiday or special occasion turns into a couple days, through the weekend, and before you know it, the entire week. It’s important to get right on track the following day. I know it’s a struggle, but you gotta just stay focused and do it!
Bottom line is, I think it’s more important to worry more about what we eat year round and less what we eat on a few holidays. So there you have it! Hopefully you use some (or all) of these holiday tips to enjoy yourself, make some good memories and not stress about the holidays.