Your Holiday Eating Strategy

Alas, it is that time of year again when cartons of egg nog become ever present in each shopping trip and specialty cookies and cakes seem to be endless. There’s the Thanksgiving feast and then Christmas parties galore through the month of December, leading up to the grand finale of Christmas Day, which for me always begins with a breakfast of Godiva chocolates direct from my stocking.

There appears to be no middle ground when it comes staying with your fitness program around the holidays, at least for me anyway. I’ve noticed among my friends as well, that there are two very different approaches.

Strategy One:

Must stay on it, because if you don’t, over a month’s worth of eating will be tough to un-do come January 1.  Not to mention that oh so sexy New Year’s dress you bought, that might not look quite the same with a few extra pounds.

Strategy Two:

Screw it.  It’s the holidays and you deserve it.  You will start back after New Year’s and in the meantime, you’re going to enjoy yourself.  Besides, Peppermint Lindt only comes once a year for crying out loud.

In the past, I’ve been more of a Strategy Two kinda girl.  I usually start with pretty good intentions, but family comes in town and then one treat leads to another and before I know it, I’m pretty much eating whatever I want. But this year, I’m determined to not begin the year feeling disgusting and out of shape. I’ve decided to have a plan and I’d like to share it with you; hopefully it will help you stay on track as well.

  • Look at your calendar and plan your treat meals

This is the most important tip to strategize by. The fact is that you can’t maintain your current weight if you are on one day and off the next.  Consistency is definitely key. So look at your calendar and plan ahead. If you have a two parties scheduled in the same week, plan to allow yourself some treats at one and not the other.  Or, indulge at both, but throw in an extra workout and don’t allow yourself a treat meal the following week. I’ve found that making a plan contributes to my excitement as well.  Knowing that I’ve got four big nights or days planned allows me to get excited about the yummy dinner I might eat or new cocktails I might try, rather than just, “Oh, I forgot I have that thing tonight.” Make a decision about your holiday plans for the month and stick with them.

  • Eat before you leave for an event

Once you have your plans in place, keep your belly full with the good stuff before leaving the house, so you don’t indulge when that wasn’t the plan. There’s nothing worse than going to the grocery store when your hungry, and that same rule applies.  It’s virtually impossible to pass up plate after plate of deliciousness, when your stomach is growling. Fill up at home on a big salad and even some carbohydrates that will help stave off hunger, like oatmeal and yams. Now, many parties do tend to have some healthier options, but it’s better to assume that they won’t and go prepared.

  • Drink coffee or hot tea

It’s natural to want to eat or drink when others are doing it around you. Keep your hands and mouth busy with coffee or tea, and you’ll find it much easier to resist the temptations. Similarly, you can grab a plate of celery or cucumbers and snack on those.  It’s something you can eat a lot of, guilt free, and it will keep you busy.

  • Skip lunch or dinner on treat days

For the most part, I’m a believer in calories in versus calories out.  What this means is that overeating the amount of calories your body is capable of burning in a day, regardless if every single calorie comes from broccoli and chicken, will still mean that you gain weight.  Now, do types of food matter when we are talking about factors such as fat burning capabilities and hormones? Sure.  But that’s another article. As a general rule, in order to maintain your weight, you can’t exceed your caloric recommendations for the day. So if you know you’re headed to a work celebration where one of your co-workers is bringing your absolute favorite dish, think about how much you plan on eating, approximate how many calories there will be, and skip that amount earlier in the day. A decent size chocolate chip cookie has about 350 calories, which depending on how times you eat a day, usually constitutes about a meal.  So skip your lunch and snack or fill up on your usual breakfast and save your calories for the treats later.

  • Leave the shopping to someone else

This one may get a bit tricky if you don’t have a significant other, but if possible, let someone else do your trip to the market. This time of season, the store is overrun with naughty items around every turn. Just today I noticed that the seasonal White Chocolate Covered Oreos have made it to the shelves. It was very tempting, but I survived. Looking at all those wonderful items and not buying them takes discipline and there’s no point in challenging yourself in that area if it’s not necessary.

  • Drink extra water

Drinking a minimum of a half a gallon of water a day for me is a staple. If I’m in training mode, I make sure I’m getting a gallon.  Water keeps your system moving and your body flushing out toxins.  Since holiday time is when we tend to over indulge, it only makes sense to combat that with extra water intake. You will be amazed at how quickly your body can bounce back from a night of heavy drinking or eating when you properly hydrate.

  • Pick your dress for New Year’s and try it on every week

Maybe it’s not a New Year’s dress, but I’m sure you’ve got something you’re excited about wearing. Trying it on from time to time can keep you motivated and on track. I know some of us wouldn’t dare keep a scale in the house, so putting on clothes can be a great tool to gauge your physical progress. There’s nothing like a fabulous and expensive dress that won’t zip to get you to re-think that red velvet cake.

  • Be mentally prepared

I’ve noticed over the years of my fitness journey that people who aren’t into a healthy lifestyle will often say negative things about your choices or try very hard to convince you to jump off the wagon.You need to be mentally prepared to run into these people in your office, when you’re out dinner or at any social engagement. I believe that those who don’t follow the lifestyle feel guilty and because of that guilt, want to get you to eat (fill in blank) so they can feel better about themselves. Or, they say negative things because they need to rationalize why they themselves aren’t in shape (Oh I wish I had the time to workout like you, I’m just too busy with this project I’m heading). What these people don’t realize is that we don’t care what they are doing with their goals, because we are concerned with our own. Our fitness journey has nothing to do with anyone else on the planet but ourselves. So be prepared to encounter these types of people and be capable of defending your choices without letting it upset you or allowing them to change your mind.

It’s only day two of December, but I’m already feeling incredibly positive about my goal to ring in the new year feeling fit, positive and fabulous. I hold no judgment towards those of you who choose to have a holiday free for all. We work hard eleven months out of the year and certainly deserve it! But the ladies who want try something different this year and keep it on track, I believe these tips will lead to you to success. Please email or tweet me! I would love to hear how your holiday season panned out.

Photo credit: Eric

 

Lea Waide

Lea is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of BeyondThirty.net.  She is a former professional dancer and IFBB fitness competitor, triathlete and all around fitness and beauty aficionado. Her passion is sharing her knowledge with women beyond the age of thirty, who are looking to continue to feel beautiful and fabulous.

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