HANDLING THE HOLIDAYS
TO TRACK OR NOT TO TRACK
With the holidays around the corner, there’s no doubt that our calendars will start to fill up with extra social events these next two months. And whether you’re at a family gathering, a work party, or a gift exchange with friends, chances are food will be involved. So, what do you do?!
Do you resist every bite and sulk in the corner with your glass of water, or do you stuff yourself with every treat you see and promise yourself you’ll get back on track again tomorrow?
The obvious correct answer is neither of those things, but that’s easier said than done! Flexible Nutrition is about finding balance in your diet, and that means even during busy holiday months where our health and nutrition can be the last thing on our minds. Unless you know that an all-or-nothing approach is the best strategy for you, having an artillery of strategies to help you stay on track in situations that are not totally in your control is key.
KNOW YOUR GOALS
Before you make a plan on how to attack the next few months, it’s important to know your goals. What are your goals this holiday season? Do you want to continue working towards fat loss goals or just maintain your current weight? Your goals may not fall in any of those categories, but they will still have a big impact on the approach you should take throughout the holiday season.
It’s totally fine to have fat loss goals, as long as you are aware that there will need to be more work on your part to achieve those goals. This may mean tracking food at parties or occasionally skipping dessert or a drink. It’s far from impossible to see progress in body composition or performance over the holidays as long as you’re willing to put in the work.
If you’re hitting pause on your fat loss goals and working on maintaining the progress you have made so far, you will have some added flexibility throughout the holidays. You can enjoy some untracked meals, have an extra drink or two, or indulge in dessert as long as you continue to eat in moderation and focus a majority of your nutrition on nutrient-dense whole foods.
ESTIMATING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING
While you should not be a slave to your scale and your phone, continuing to log your food can be a helpful tool for staying on track regardless of your goals. Even if you are just estimating, creating a rough outline of what you are eating will keep you accountable to yourself and help you stay aware of your food choices.
If you are estimating food while away from home, you can use your hand as a tool to help you understand general portion sizes. It isn’t the most accurate way to track, but it can be more trustworthy than just eyeballing portions. You can also practice at home by estimating portion sizes and then double checking your estimations by weighing those portions with your scale.
TO TRACK OR NOT TO TRACK
Flexible Nutrition doesn’t only mean being flexible with your food choices; it also means being flexible in how you deal with different situations. You will find that there are some occasions where tracking your food will be best for you, and other occasions where taking time away from tracking will be the best approach. Now that you’ve hashed out your goals and have a general ideal of what you need to do throughout the holidays, here are a few examples of different ways you can navigate different events you may encounter this holiday season:
PRE-TRACK || A potluck-style party with friends or family is a great time to try pre-tracking your food. Since you’ll be bringing a dish (or two) to share, make sure that those dishes will work well for you and then pre-track the food you think you will eat. While it won’t be exact, having a general idea of what you’ll eat can help you plan the rest of your day accordingly, and can also keep you from mindlessly munching once you get to the party.
ESTIMATE || It’s not always appropriate to whip out your phone and get on MFP in the middle of a social event. Being present with family and friends should always be your top priority, but if you have serious goals that you want to reach, continuing to estimate and track may be a good strategy for you. As mentioned above, this can keep you accountable and help you stay within the realm of your macro goals, which is loads better than giving up for the night and eating whatever you want. Use hand measurements to estimate general portion sizes and then take 30 seconds to step aside and track your food before you put your phone away for the rest of the night.
EAT MINDFULLY || It’s completely possible to still work towards your goals without tracking your food at all. While taking this approach every single day may not help you see major progress, eating mindfully can help you stay within the realm of your macro goals while still enjoying social events. Eating mindfully means being extra attentive to hunger and fullness cues. It means eating slowly and staying in touch with your body and its’ needs. If taking a mindful eating approach, try to center your meal around protein, fruit, and vegetables and then focus on eating slowly. Have a conversation while you eat, chew slowly, and set down your fork between bites. This is a great strategy to help you avoid overeating at a dinner where the menu is unknown and tracking isn’t appropriate.
I know the holidays can be tough when you have nutrition goals, but there are so many ways to enjoy the season while still feeling your best. I have so much good stuff I want to share that I can’t share it all here, so be sure to sign up for my email list where I’ll be sharing my BEST tips each Friday in a weekly email. Have any specific questions about tackling this holiday season? Leave ‘em below!