The holidays can be some of our most memorable times with our friends and family – and also some of our most stressful of times! Many people struggle this time of the year with their nutrition and fitness goals due to this stress and social gatherings. Let’s talk about some tools for navigating the many seasonal treats, beverages and social gatherings so that we can slow down, enjoy these moments, and truly savor all what this holiday season has to offer.

Let’s talk food cravings: First of all, acknowledge that we are all human. Humans, however dialed in with nutrition we may be, have food cravings. Start by looking at your environment to see if there are things that may be leading to those food cravings. The holiday candy dish at your office or around your house is an example of something visible that may lead to craving more sugary foods.

Look at other factors that may impact your likelihood of engaging in healthy behaviors. How are you feeling and are you getting enough sleep? When we are sleep deprived, depressed or stressed out and trying to get so many things done around the holidays, our bodies want to alleviate the impact of our stress hormones, which may lead to cravings for foods that are higher in sugar.

The holidays provide some challenges to our nutrition goals, from social events that may lead to pressure to eat foods you normally don’t eat, and possibly increased alcohol and dessert consumption. Social events are difficult to navigate for many reasons. Often, food is a focus at these events and there may be pressure to overindulge. If you are feeling stressed, food or alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism to deal with the added stress.

What are some strategies for dealing with these added stressors? Here are some ideas:

  1. Offer to bring some food: Bring a healthy dish that you enjoy to a gathering to ensure there is something healthy to indulge in. Start looking at recipes for the holidays to come up with some dishes to bring. A vegetable side dish is easy – like roasted cauliflower or brussels sprouts or a lightened up sweet potato dish.
  2. Reshape your holiday party plate: Look at the variety of offerings at a gathering, and consciously work to load your holiday plate up with the healthiest offerings first. Remember we talked about the Plate Method last week? That is always a good default to balance your plate and portion sizes.
  3. Environment check: Where are you standing at a holiday gathering? Make sure to position yourself farther away from the food table or the holiday candy bowl to decrease the likelihood of mindless eating while socializing.
  4. Alcohol: Alternate your alcoholic beverages with water or club soda with lime. If you are going to have an alcoholic beverage, opt for a healthier alternative to the sugary or cream-filled drinks, like vodka & soda, a glass of red wine, or a light beer.
  5. Practice mindfulness: Slow down as you eat, take the time to chew your food, and enjoy the tastes and smells of your food. When socializing, be aware of mindless eating while you are caught up in a conversation. Aim to set your plate down and stay focused on the conversation

Hope this helps you stick to your nutrition goals through the holidays.

Have a happy and healthy holiday season!

~Michelle Ann Keely
CEO, CrossFit Grail
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
PN Certified Nutrition Coach
(720) 515-6434