One of the most frequently asked questions around this time of year is “how am I supposed to eat around the holidays?” For most people, this is the time to indulge and stuff your face with cookies, cake, and pies, and then wash it all down with a gallon of eggnog. But what happens if you are currently in the middle of trying to lose weight? Do you sacrifice everything you’ve been working towards the past couple weeks/months to have a little fun and enjoy the holidays? Well, who says the two scenarios have to be mutually exclusive? Why not be able to do both?
If you are the type of person that works hard all year and then indulges around the holidays but can get right back on track without hesitation, then I applaud you. However, you are the minority. Some people may say, “screw it I’m going to enjoy the copious amounts of holiday food and drink and get back on track for the New Year”. Even though they pretend like they don’t care, deep down they feel awful that they are throwing away their progress. Then there are those that go in with the mindset that they will not break at all, and while the whole family is enjoying stories over their spiked eggnog and chocolate cake, that person is crying in the corner sipping on unsweetened almond milk. I just presented a very wide spectrum, so think about where you may fall on that and keep in mind what I am going to suggest next.
The key to surviving holiday eating is by having a smart, realistic plan. You should allow yourself to indulge minimally so that you don’t feel left out, but make sure that you don’t overdo it. Realistically, is one brownie and a small glass of eggnog going to completely eradicate the progress you’ve made over the past 6 months? No. No it isn’t. If you go in with a plan, and you stick to it (the most important factor), then you should be fine. Try to stay as close to your diet protocols as possible, while also allowing for some fun. After all, it is the season of giving, so give yourself a little treat. If you’ve been eating plain chicken breast and egg whites for 8 weeks, one nice piece of roast beef might be just the reprieve your taste buds need.
You should plan a rough outline of what kind of foods you will be eating and keep in mind that there needs to be some give and take. If you plan on eating that brownie and eggnog, then maybe you can do without the second serving of sweet potatoes, or just reduce the portions of your main meal. If you are trying to lose weight, keep in mind the total caloric intake (your magic number) that you are trying to hit to achieve that goal. You shouldn’t be going too far over that, and definitely should try to avoid going over the caloric number needed to maintain your current weight. Remember also that you are keeping the plan realistic. So if you know that you’re going to give into peer pressure and eat sweets, don’t make a plan that follows the strict, never be broken example that I used earlier. You are only going to be hurting yourself in the end.
You also need to be able to measure your progress and be okay with whatever the number on the scale says. If you go up a pound or two over the next two weeks, it isn’t the end of the world. If you zoom out on your progress you will see that even with the small increase, overall you might still be down 10 pounds since September. Stay positive and know that the numbers will continue to drop once the holidays pass. Don’t become consumed with the scale at this time, just use it as a way to monitor yourself, and as a way to keep track of your plan. Perhaps if the scale goes up 5-6 pounds in a day, then you need to adjust your plan accordingly.
So how do you survive holiday eating? Just like most things in life, you need to formulate a plan and stick to it. Make sure your plan is realistic and you are tracking your progress and adjusting when necessary. And last but not least, getting in some extra exercise can never hurt. Most gyms may not be open during Christmas or New Years, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get together with your family or old high school buddies and have a pickup game in a sport of your liking. Think about your personality and where you fall on the spectrum, and make the best decision to put yourself in a position to succeed.