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Four Steps to Staying on Track Over the Holidays

The holiday season is coming up soon. Can you just smell the pumpkin spice in the air? Just the sound of White Christmas playing takes me back to baking in the kitchen with my grandma. This time of year is full of family traditions, gatherings with friends, social events...and ALL the food. For those of you who are making great progress with your nutrition goals, this time of year can be pretty stressful. What do you eat so you don’t lose all the progress you’ve made?! How can you go to multiple social events in a single week and still stay on track? The key is planning ahead BEFORE family gatherings and parties. And give yourself a lot of grace. Most likely, if you are even thinking about how you could do the holidays differently this year, you will! Here are my top four steps to staying on track over the holidays.

1. Focus on consistency during the meals that are easy to control. If you know that dinner is going to deviate from your normal routine, make breakfast and lunch high in protein, low carb and low fat. Also include as much fiber as possible in these meals. These "easy to control" meals are the key to you feeling your best and not over-indulging at the “special meals.”

2. Figure out which foods are special for this holiday, i.e. Grandma Ruth’s candied carrots and Uncle Bob’s cornbread stuffing only come around every so often, so try your best to fit these into your plan and have small, reasonable portions. Oreos, potato chips and store-bought brownies are always available at the grocery store and probably not "splurge worthy.”

3. Limit alcohol consumption and plan ahead for it. If you know you're going to a family or social event later that day, plan ahead and count 1 serving of alcohol as 1 serving of carbs. Remember that 1 drink = at least 25g of carbs (even those seltzers that claim they only have “4g of carbs.”) Also, good to remember that alcohol can cloud your judgement and may make it easier to bail on your perfectly thought-out plan.

4. Avoid guilt and shame about food. Understand that this is a special occasion and food is part of making memories with family and friends. Food has no morality. It is neither good or bad. It's ok to have to resort to your backup plan (or even backup plan #2!) when it comes to a family gathering! Having a plan ahead of time will equip you for more success than if you just wing it. The people that have the best results long term with their nutrition goals are able to analyze shortcomings without guilt and shame and get right back at it the next day.

Katie Vanhooser, PA-C

Katie Vanhooser, PA-C
In 2021, Katie earned her nutrition coaching certification and is excited to bring this knowledge to TOA patients. Nutrition coaching empowers you to achieve a healthier lifestyle through developing a manageable plan that prioritizes small realistic goals, over sweeping lifestyle changes. If you're interested in nutrition coaching with Katie call 1.855.NEED.TOA. Coaching sessions are twice a month and are covered by insurance.

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