Your Guide to Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season: Tips and Tricks

Your Guide to Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time of excitement, celebration, and nostalgia for many women.

However, it can also pose challenges and temptations for those who are striving to maintain a healthy eating routine. 

As a Registered Dietitian who has worked with thousands of women over the past 15 years, I understand these struggles.

In this blog, I will share valuable insights on how to set realistic goals, overcome common hurdles, and maintain a winning mindset. 

Let’s go ahead and explore the ways to savour the festivities while staying healthy during the holiday season!

Challenge 1: Your Favourite Treats are Calling Your Name! 

From mini chocolate bars at Halloween to stuffing with mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving to extravagant feasts at Hanukkah or Christmas…women are constantly faced with temptation.

Many of us have been celebrating with these foods since we were kids. They represent nostalgic memories with our loved ones and bring most of us a tremendous amount of comfort and joy. 

Yet, many of us also get feelings of anxiety surrounding this time of year if we are watching our weight or trying to stay on top of our health goals. 

Here’s the thing: we CAN treat ourselves and still feel good about our diet and health overall. 

It’s all about creating a reasonable “treat budget” that we are 90% sure we can stick to. 

Solution: Create a treat budget 

  • Think about your “must-have” treats and your “nice-to-have treats”. “Must-have” treats are those that you enjoy the most and “nice-to-have” treats are those that you tend to eat just because they are in front of you. 
  • Determine how much of your “must-haves” you will need to feel satisfied.
  • Plan for your “must-haves” (i.e. when, where, and how much). For example: I will have 2 mini chocolate bars on Halloween after I eat a balanced, healthy dinner.
  • Take the time to truly enjoy your “must-haves” by portioning them out, sitting down, and savouring every single bite…without guilt!
  • Put the rest away so that you aren’t tempted to have more than what you budgeted. If needed, have a loved one hide the rest of the box somewhere you don’t know. Out of sight often means out of mind. 

Challenge 2: All-Or-Nothing Thinking 

Many women develop an “all-or-nothing” mindset when it comes to eating during the holiday season.

I’ve heard women say things like:

“The holidays will be a complete write-off” OR 

“There’s no point in starting a healthy eating routine now…it’s the holidays” OR 

“I’ll get back on track after the holidays” 

Do any of these sound familiar? If they do, you are not alone.

Solution: Have a Winning Mindset 

Instead of striving for unrealistic perfection, ask yourself: 

  • How can I achieve a balance between being healthy and treating myself/having fun?
  • How can I do my best in every situation?
  • What do I need to do over the next few weeks to come out of the holiday season feeling like I had a great time and treated myself, but overall feeling proud of my choices? 

If you have an all-or-nothing mindset over the holidays then it COULD be a complete write-off, which may impact your weight, health, energy, and mood. In the end, this could dramatically impact your ability to truly enjoy the holiday season!

If you find a middle ground or happy medium during the holidays, you are more likely to stay on track, feel good in your body, and look back at the holiday season with fond memories.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Create a “treat budget” as outlined above.
  • Think about how you can stay on track OUTSIDE of your social events and planned treats. For example:

When CAN you choose healthier meals and snacks?

When CAN you meal plan, grocery shop and meal prep?

When CAN you be active? If you do end up overindulging or find yourself deviating from your plan, practice self-compassion and get back on track at your next meal. Every eating experience is an opportunity to learn, grow, and understand what you need to do to stay on track the next time you are in a similar situation. 

Challenge 3: Social Pressure 

Celebrations with friends and family during the holiday season often revolve around lots of delicious food and alcohol. 

The pressure we feel to conform to societal expectations can be overwhelming. 

One may feel a sense of obligation to try their Grandma’s famous pie, their neighbour’s sugar cookies, or their daughter’s gingerbread house. Not only this, many women are used to being the person who always says “yes” to food and tries everything. This can be a hard pattern to break. 

Solution: Communicate Your Health Goals and Set Boundaries

To navigate this pressure successfully, it’s important to clearly communicate your health goals and eating choices with your loved ones. Don’t be afraid of being judged, they will likely be supportive and may even join you on the journey towards healthier choices. 

If they aren’t supportive at first, then talk to them about ways you can stay on track without it negatively impacting them. You could discuss healthier options they may be interested in. For example, if you want to include more vegetables over the holidays you could ask them which ones they enjoy and select recipes together. 

One thing to remember is that you are the only one that has to live in your body. If you want to reap the benefits of healthy eating such as managing your weight, digestion, energy, mood and mental clarity, then it’s important to keep your eye on the prize and stay strong in your position. 

Your loved ones will get used to your new and improved way of life. 

Remember, surrounding yourself with a positive support system can strengthen your resolve and increase the likelihood of positive results!

In Conclusion…

As the holiday season quickly approaches, remember that staying on track with healthy eating is possible through awareness, planning, and setting realistic goals. Don’t be afraid to embrace the festivities while making conscious choices that benefit your overall well-being and long-term goals.

Many other challenges and food anxieties can come up for women during the holidays, so stay tuned for part 2 where we dive into more helpful solutions for staying healthy during the holiday season.

If you need personalized guidance and support to stay on track with healthy eating during the holidays, reach out to a Registered Dietitian like me! Registered Dietitians can create a tailored plan for you and provide expert advice to help you achieve your health goals. Don’t hesitate to book a discovery call with me and build a better relationship with food during the holidays and beyond.