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Hacking the Holidays | Holiday Eating 101

Ahhh the holidays are in the air. Office parties, class parties, family dinners, pies, cookies, cakes, OH MY. I hear it from my patients, friends, and family members. I get it. It can be a hard time for someone who is diligently trying to lose/maintain weight. However, I wanted to invite you into my perspective on eating and the holidays.

As per usual this time of year there's a lot currently floating around online about having a "healthier holiday." I've seen everything from "grain-free, fat-free pie crusts" to posts about how to "modify your traditional recipes" to make your day an all around healthier day. I'll be honest, these posts in particular are what grinds my gears because personally I think they send out the wrong message to people. It tends to scream "well if you weren't feeling guilty about holiday eating NOW you are if you aren't doing any of these things."I swear this partly contributes to why we as a society have such an "it's complicated" (Facebook reference) relationship with food. If you want my thoughts on all of these mumbo jumbo modifications for traditional recipes and all of this over-thinking about food on these days here's my complete honest and heartfelt opinion. I think it's RIDICULOUS. You must be thinking "did the RDN just say she thinks making holidays healthier is ridiculous?" YUP you heard (or technically read) right!

Here's why: the holidays are about coming together with friends and family and ENJOYING yourself. It's a time that we look forward to all year long and it's a shame that people are trying to ruin that. I'm not saying go eat 5 of grandma's pies, but what I am saying is to ENJOY yourself and satisfy yourself on these important days. Overthinking and restricting yourself for one day is NOT going to make you feel better. In all reality sometimes it ends up backfiring on people and all they can think about is all of the yummy things they didn't have.

With that being said. Below are 6 tips on how to hack the holidays and develop a better relationship with food during this time of year.

  1. Stay mindful.

  • Mindfulness is a large term to define but basically in a nutshell it means to really listen to your body and stay in tune with your hunger and satiety cues. No one likes the feeling of eating so much that you feel like you're going to puke. Be alert when your body is telling you you've had enough. The turkey should be the only thing thats stuffed.

  1. Keep in mind that the actual holidays are only a FEW days within a 365 day YEAR.

  • A couple days a year is NOT going to have a drastic effect on your health. I promise you.

  1. Abstain from weighing yourself the day after a holiday.

  • People become obsessed with weighing themselves throughout this time of the year. Try to stay away from doing this obsessively. Booze and sodium are two huge culprits for some weight "gain" after a holiday. I promise you did not gain 3 pounds in one day and that it's mostly fluid retention. Try to pick one day per week if you really want to stay on top of your weight. I tend to prefer Wednesdays (not right after the weekend and not right at the end of the week of more orderly eating).

  1. Please do not restrict yourself.

  • This is not the time to start "being good" (whatever that even means). It makes it much harder on individuals if they end up restricting on a day they were looking forward to! 9 times out of 10 these are the individuals that end up looking for something to satisfy their cravings after the fact and they eat so much more than they would have if they just enjoyed themselves in the first place!

  1. Don't just mindlessly eat it because it's in front of you. Eat it if you enjoy it.

  • Piggybacking off of the concept of number 1. Sometimes we forget that not everything at the table is worth it and we end up just eating it just "because." Choose the foods you were really looking forward to and don't waste your time with foods you're not crazy about!

  1. Enjoy these beautiful days with family and friends and don't worry over the food you choose/chose to eat!

  • Don't let food ruin your day. If anything it should enhance how great your day is. Holidays are about celebrating traditions and family. Don't let those stupid "grain free, fat free, you-might-as-well-just-be-eating-air free" modifications take place of a pie recipe that's been in your family for years because you're going to feel bad about eating the real deal. Being guilty because of something you put into your body starts giving your mind the concept that food is your enemy. And that concept right there is how we as individuals start having a skewed relationship with food.

Anyway, I digress. I could probably write an entire book on this! Hope these tips help you "Hack the Holidays" and hopefully I made some of you feel better about the holidays to come. And remember, it's only a few days out of the entire year! You deserve it! The next day you can resume your usual meals/schedules!

Stay happy and healthy loves!

Until next time,



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