Nutrition Tips for the Holidays

by Mitch Davis

You’ve worked really hard the past few months and have noticed your hard work paying off. Your friends and family are showing you with compliments and you’re eager to continue to make progress. However, it is that time of year where we’re surrounded by an abundance of food. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s pose a serious threat to our gains. So, we turn to strangers online for advice, knowing that they’ll have the secret formula for success. 

So, being that stranger with the secret formula, I will tell you exactly how to manage your nutrition over the holidays. Don’t. We spend far too much time worrying about a few bad days of eating and what it will do to our progress. The mental gymnastics are emotionally draining. Not to mention, those individuals who are hyper-obsessed with not eating thanksgiving dinner due to ruining their progress are a real killjoy at the dinner table. To me, a few days a year of celebrating with friends and family and enjoying a big dinner is far more emotionally beneficial than it is harmful to our progress. 

However, there are some things we can do to help not completely derail ourselves. First, don’t treat the holiday special leading up to any big meal. Many of us will skip meals the day of, if not days before, in hopes of saving calories. Eat a normal breakfast and/or lunch, it’ll help you from overly stuffing yourself at dinner when you’re starving. Be an adult. You know when you’re full. So maybe stop eating then? We wonder how to manage our weight over the holidays, but we don’t ever question our own abilities. If you’re full, slow down, and enjoy the meal for the company. I promise you, the last bite tastes just the same as your first bite. 

Some things to consider around the holidays. A lot of “weight gain” will be short lived, mostly due to stress of travel, increased booze intake, and increased carbs. Give yourself a week or two after the holidays and the weight on the scale will return to normal. You didn’t “gain” ten pounds of fat in one meal. You’re just bloated and filled with carbs. Things will return to normal in a few days. If you’re a booze-hound, maybe knock it off? Alcohol reduces our desire to be a mature, functioning adult fit for society. We’ll cave to our cravings and overindulge. If you’re noticing a trend in waking up feeling fuzzy and seeing the brownie tray empty, it could just be that you’ve lost all ability to control yourself when under the influence. 

I’ll add in a brief note on calorie counting and tracking macros. For those of you who already do this, give yourself a break and let a few days go by while you’re not worrying about it. For those of you who don’t, understand that many of us find this process insufferable. It creates more stress around food and we wind up burning ourselves out. For the vast majority of us, calorie counting isn’t something we need to worry about. I would suggest starting small. Write down what you’ve eaten over the last few days and see how much you’re consuming. For many of us, we mindlessly eat late at night, eat out a bit too frequently, or overly indulge in alcohol. When we take a good look at what we’re eating, the reasons as to why we’re not losing weight can become very evident.

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Mitchell Davis is the Director of Remote Coaching at Power Train Sports & Fitness.  He is a PhD candidate at Liberty University where he is pursuing his doctorate in Health & Exercise Science.  He has been a coach and educator for 13 years, serving in roles such as collegiate strength and conditioning coach, high school strength and conditioning coach, adjunct professor, personal trainer, and fitness consultant.  

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