You need a holiday eating strategy. Just think for a minute. Thanksgiving and Christmas both signal food, glorious food to us all. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t be strategic about our holiday eating. We all know the consequences of all that indulgence. Packing on the pounds.
Strategic holiday eating curbs appetite and shame
Just the thought of all that luscious food makes my waistband expand. My eyes widen taking in all the delights to eat; and my mouth waters in anticipation of that first bite—the first of many, no doubt! Of course we don’t think of the consequences of stuffing ourselves: weight gain, heartburn, lethargy, gas, and mood swings. Not to mention our feelings of shame and remorse. I can’t believe I ate ALL that food!
Strategic holiday eating includes enjoyment
Now, I’m about to tell you something you might not expect from a health coach: one day of indulging doesn’t make a huge difference to your health goals and I actually recommend you enjoy yourself. Take a day off! In holiday season time like this week, you can plan for three days. Just avoid gluttony for the days and weeks following your indulgences now.
Unless, you have a health condition that requires you to restrict your diet—such as diabetes, or high blood pressure—then of course, you should heed your doctor’s advice. But in the case of everyone else without a pressing health condition (even those who want to lose weight), I say enjoy yourself and eat the foods you wouldn’t normally.
How much does each overindulgence cost calorically
The reality is that one day of overindulging typically amounts to consuming around 4500 calories. Even if your body stored all of these excess calories as fat, it would only result in a whopping one pound gain. Yep, that’s all. So in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter.
Tracking the treats helps with strategic holiday eating
My advice doesn’t mean eat everything in sight and snack all day; it means enjoy a treat here or there, and don’t worry about eating more than you normally would. And you certainly don’t have anything to be shameful about by enjoying food with friends and family over counting calories (not that I recommend that either (but that’s another blog, for another day!).
Here’s the strategy
The way that I plan to enjoy the holidays this year is to not buy excesses of indulgent food—because once it is in my home, I will eat it all and much sooner than I had planned! I buy some of what I fancy. On the holiday itself, I’ll eat a reasonably nutritious breakfast, enjoy my Thanksgiving or Christmas meal—and all the treats—and perhaps have a snack later on if I feel like it. I’ll walk or cycle over to my friend’s house—who is hosting—so that afterwards, the walk/cycle back will help with the post-meal lethargy and improve my digestion.
Tips for a quick recovery
Know this: if you do overindulge for a few days with all of the leftover food, fear not. There are a few things you can do for a quick food recovery to feel good and get back on track:
- Give leftover food to friends and family to take away with them—removing any temptation to snack on them for days after.
- Schedule workouts in between the holidays so you commit to keeping up your normal routine. If you know you’ll put them off, sign up for personal training, or arrange to go with a friend—that way, you’re less likely to cancel. Once you exercise, it’s highly likely you’ll make healthier food choices.
- Watch your favorite shows—but not for hours on end. I have a tendency to eat the most amount of [mindless] calories in front of the TV—I sometimes can’t believe I’ve eaten the entire plate of food when I look down. Eating in this way is a sure fire way of consuming a lot of excess calories. Try to eat meals at the table or without the distraction of TV. Savor and taste your food—eat slowly and mindfully.
- When you plan your grocery list for holiday food, also plan lots of healthy meals to make. That way you’re more likely to commit to getting back on track the day after the holiday because the food is already in your home.
My message is this: enjoy yourself and spend time with loved ones without worrying about eating too many holiday sweets. One day, doesn’t have to turn into a whole month of overindulgence. And don’t forget the sober weight gain strategy.