The holidays are full of fun stress, memories and food. One big stress I hear about often is the fear of gaining weight around the holidays and the stress around eating certain foods.
How Food Works
Around this time of year, I constantly hear "I'm going to gain 10lbs just by looking at all the food and treats".
Having this thought process around food means that you most likely label certain foods as good or bad. There are no good foods and bad foods. There is also no such thing as fat burning foods or fattening foods.
I know this sounds crazy but hear me out. It's not all about the foods, it's the portion.
There are nutrient dense foods and calorie dense foods.
All foods contain energy known to us as calories. ALL foods have calories. When it comes to weight gain or weight loss, calories are what matter because they are energy.
The more energy we store and do not burn off = weight gain.
The more food energy we burn than store = weight loss.
Simply put, calorie intake decides whether you gain or lose weight (deficit, maintenance, surplus).
Weight is not just fat. Weight = (water weight, muscle, connective tissue, bone mass and some fat).
The ratio of macros (amounts of carbs, fats, and protein) you consume decides your body composition (how defined/firm/toned you look).
The quality of food determines how you feel and perform.
Relax & Enjoy Yourself
Enjoying means If you really want something, have it. Making memories with your family and enjoying the holidays is important. We are all going to pass at some point regardless of how we choose to live our lives so enjoying the time we have is important. Telling yourself you can't have something you want, only makes you want it more.
You don't gain 10lbs from eating one treat, you don't lose 10 lbs from eating one salad. Weeks of eating in a caloric surplus will result in fat gain, not one day.
No Means No
Sometimes we can feel the need to eat everything around us but it's important that if we don't want something, say no. It can be especially hard if the people around us try to push our boundaries but we need to stand firm and politely decline if it's not something we want.
Be mindful of the quality foods you consume over this time. It can be easier to eat food just because it's around and it's entertaining but just because it's in your sightline, doesn't mean you need to eat every treat. It's possible to enjoy yourself and not overindulge.
"Eat your veggies, then you get dessert" this is what we tell kids but sometimes we need to apply it to ourselves. Have the treats and enjoy yourself but don't switch all nutrient dense foods for calories dense foods.
Eating around the holidays can involve a strategy. Prioritize high protein foods and include lots of water and veggies during the day. Now when the treats come out, you can still enjoy some calories dense foods, but now your body has also been nurtured with nutrient dense foods and you are less likely to overindulge on the calories dense foods.
Maybe you feel that you did overindulge and you feel a bit guilty. You're not going to benefit from the guilt. Instead, you learn and do things differently the next time. You don't need to stress and go on a diet immediately. From this point, add in more nutrient dense foods and drink more water. Don't remove from your diet, add in more nutritious foods. The more you prioritize consuming nutrient dense foods, the less calorie dense foods you consume automatically because you're more satiated. This way you are prioritizing nutrition while still leaving some room for treats.
Not sure if you're getting the nutrients you need? Maybe it's time to start tracking your food so you can make sure you are getting enough nutrients and eating the portions that are right for your body.
No matter how many treats you have over the holidays, even if you ate more than you expected, remind yourself you did not fail and there is no need to shame yourself for what you ate.
Use The Energy
When you consume more than you burn, you enter a caloric surplus. Most of us enter a caloric surplus during the holidays. Instead of trying to burn off the extra calories this year, I encourage you to use it to your advantage. You can think of this as an asset to your workouts to help you increase strength. When you lift weights, you will have more energy and are likely to be able to make a slight increase in what you were lifting because your body has the energy for it, WOOHOO!
In conclusion, there is no need to create a mental prison around food. Telling yourself no and shaming yourself only leads to having an unhealthy relationship with food. A couple days of eating calories dense foods will not send you to the point of no return even if you overindulge. Prioritize high protein nutrient dense foods first, then move on to the treats. You will feel better physically and your body will thank you for it.
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