Mind. Body. Spirit.

Maneuvering the Holidays – Tips from a Registered Dietician

December 12, 2022

By Nancy Lum, RDN

The Holidays are here again with the foods, parties, and festivities starting from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. My weight loss clients are always stressed about the Holidays and worried about the possibility of weight re-gain. Temptations are all around during this time of year. At workspaces there are candy bowls, cookies, and food being brought into work to celebrate. There are many celebrations with friends and family members at homes and restaurants. Maneuvering these social situations can be very difficult for someone trying to remain vigilant in their weight loss journey. Over the years I have taught many classes and seminars on what to do during the holidays to help clients stay on track so here is my biggest tip to take with you this season.

Have a well thought out plan and stick to your plan as this will reduce anxiety and stress around these events enormously. There is no right or wrong way to handle these things it is all about what your triggers/vulnerabilities are, and what will work realistically for you to commit to the plan you develop for yourself.

It is so important to walk into various environmental and social situations with a defined plan on what you will and won’t do to support your goals. I call this creating balance and boundaries. Decide ahead of the event whether this is a treat meal event or an avoid the treat event. For example, let’s say you have 4 events in one week. You need to write them down and decide what you will do and how you will handle each one ahead of the event. The key is, we can have a treat a few times a week if we stick to our healthy behaviors the rest of the week. Remember bad choices made often is how people get into trouble.

One event is a work party during the day: Maybe this event is not that important to you. It is after lunch so you could decide to eat a healthy breakfast and a healthy lunch before you go to the event, so you’re not hungry and focus on socializing with the team. The event is only 1-2 hours, and you’re not required to be there for the whole thing. They will have snack type foods anyway since it is not a sit-down dinner event. Have a low-calorie beverage and snack on some of the veggies at the tabletops and get involved in good conversation. As a treat to yourself wear an outfit that makes you feel amazing, so you are less focused on the food.

One event is a fancy dinner with friends in your favorite restaurant at night: This event is important to you, and you really love the food there. It will be with your closest friends, and this is an important tradition every year. Have a healthy plan for breakfast, lunch, and the midday snack. Workout before you go to expend some extra energy. When we workout we tend to make healthier choices. Have the meal you want and watch the portion sizes. If the portions are large, be proactive and have the wait staff bring half and pack up the other half to take home. You could throw it out on the way out of the restaurant or split the meal with a friend to avoid those heavy calories 2 days in a row. If you want a drink, make a choice to have one cocktail. There are many added extra calories and sugar in the drinks. There may be a dessert you really want so to avoid the debate decide ahead to split it with one of the friends. Avoid the extra bread and or simple carbohydrates brought to the table and add extra vegetable sides to the dinner.

One event is at a family members house for brunch: This event is with family so you may decide to let them in on your new health goals and they may have some healthier options available. You could also make a healthy egg bake dish with chicken sausage and bring to the event to share. Eggs is an easy dish to make healthy. You could also make a batch of muffins utilizing a sugar stevia blend or monk fruit in the raw to lower the sugar and calorie content for a healthier sweet option. This way you can enjoy the event and not go off track. Focus on socializing and catching up with family.

One event is making gingerbread houses with the children at a community event with lots of sweets available to eat: This event will be tough so deciding ahead of time what you will and won’t do is imperative to maneuver this situation well. Decide what you will do and write it down to solidify your commitment to it. Keep your reasons for why you want to maintain or lose weight in mind when you are going into these situations. Your “whys” for weight loss/maintenance are always more powerful than the food but, we need to keep our focus on those reasons not to be swayed in the moment. Maybe you decide ahead of the event that you will have one treat you really want and work it into your food plan for the day. Again, plan to have a healthy breakfast and lunch before you go to the event and make a point to exercise ahead of the event to ensure better food decision making. Focus more on the fun of spending time with the children and enjoying the festivities rather than just the food.

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