Enjoy the damn holiday :)
Updated: Mar 30
Thanksgiving is one week away and that means lots of planning for, in my opinion, the most glorious holiday of the year. As a Dietitian, and a food fanatic, Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite holiday. Myself and many other Dietitians participate in this holiday without restriction or guilt. This is a day to celebrate family, friends and food and not to worry about our macros.
However, many of my clients do not share this view of Thanksgiving or the other winter holidays that follow. For many it causes stress, anxiety and even embarrassment to participate in the festivities because of their current state of health or their perceived image of themselves. The goal of this post is to provide some perspective so you can try to enjoy the holidays without worry!
Holiday weight gain is overblown
So much noise exists on social media, TV, radio and from the people around us about perceived notion that we pack on the pounds during the holidays. “Eat this, don’t eat that”, “reduce this”, “swap this out for that” and on and on and on, but did you know that the average American gains about one pound during the Holiday season? Yep, that’s it, just about one pound according to the BeWell Stanford website. One pound is hardly worth making any significant changes to your current nutrition regimen during the Holidays.
Not the best time to overhaul your diet
The holidays are a less than ideal time to start making big changes to your diet. Many clients think that cutting out carbohydrates, trying a new fasting regimen or skipping meals altogether will compensate for the consumption of a big holiday meal. This could lead to unintended acute issues like low blood sugar, undernourishment or underfueling your workouts. Continuing any of those patterns long-term may lead to other chronic issues, like binge eating, for some people.
The best thing to do is work on any significant dietary changes when you have an extended period of time to focus on making lifestyle changes and consult with a Dietitian who can safely guide you along the way.
This is admittedly easier when you are not travelling for the holidays, but some of these strategies can be used when you’re on the go.
Eat familiar meals and snacks when possible.
Eat at or close to your normal meal and snack times.
Bring balanced snacks for the plane or car ride like a banana and almonds, beef jerky and an apple, a cheese stick and baby carrots or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread.
Practice mindful eating
Mindful Eating is an emerging trend to enhance your senses while eating and create an overall more healthy experience. You can try one or more of the following strategies to help you eat more mindfully.
Eliminate distractions like your phone, television or computer.
Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues.
Focus on all sensory aspects of the meal: taste and flavor, mouthfeel and texture, smells, sounds and the colors on your plate.
Appreciate food as fuel for your body.
Coping with (and eventually reducing) feelings of anxiety and guilt with food.
Hydrate with non caloric beverages
Liquid calories are undercover calories and an easy way to go over your daily energy needs. Liquid calories can make up 22% of calories in the average American diet. That is 440 calories per day in a standard 2000 calorie diet or 3,080 calories per week! Here’s some nutrition facts for popular holiday beverages:
12 oz cola - 150 calories (all from added sugar)
8 oz (one cup) apple juice - 110 calories
12 oz beer - 153 calories
5 oz wine - 125 calories
1.5 oz hard liquor - 100 calories
Stay hydrated with non-caloric beverages or alternate any of the above drinks with non-caloric beverages such as:
Sparkling Water (i.e. LaCroix)
Enjoy The Damn Holiday!
Holidays are meant to be fun and positive experiences (sometimes your annoying brother or your Uncle who doesn't believe in gravity can change that haha) so permit yourself to enjoy that holiday meal! Some of the Thanksgiving staples we only enjoy once a year so go for seconds without regret. You can work it off on a long walk or at the gym on Black Friday (no way in hell I’m going to the mall that day). Have a wonderful and safe holiday season!