The holiday season can be particularly challenging for those of us who have specific goals and are eating to a plan in order to reach them. There’s endless temptation from festive food and beverages. People gravitate to celebrations and often find food that they associate with nostalgic feelings of Christmas moments gone by. There’s also the marketing machine that churns out an array of new treats every year. The struggle is truly real this time of year.
Although there is endless temptation and ways to come off the rails of your eating plan or diet over the holidays there are things you can do to minimise any of the festive fun derailing your plan and stay on track to achieve your goals.
Have a plan
It’s important to have a really specific plan in the first place. You might be on a program like Slimming World or Weight Watchers, you might simply be tracking your macros or even following a Keto eating plan. Start out by having a plan of how you’re going to stick to it. I do this once a week on a Sunday – looking at the week ahead I figure out where I might have special holiday functions or lunches and what opportunities I have to stay on track.
Your Meal Tracking app is your best friend
I’m a huge fan of MyFitnessPal and whatever app you use to track your food, it’s super important to do it over this period because it’s easy for little things to sneak their way in. After all of the lunches, cocktail parties, morning teas and Carol in the office receiving a share hamper the calories add up quickly.
I also highly recommend planning your day before you start so if you want to include that after work glass of wine or a treat here or there you have your plan for the day and you know your calories will fit. There’s nothing worse than logging it all in at the end of the day to find you ate well over what you wanted to.
Read the menu before you go
If you’re going to a restaurant or even somewhere for after work drinks, check the menu before you go. Order what works for your plan and try not to nibble at anything else unless you have room for it in your plan. If there isn’t anything on the menu that suits, you can always call the restaurant and see what options you have.
Alcohol – decide what you’ll have and stick to it
Those sneaky alcoholic calories are a huge factor in holiday season weight gain. You might smash the eggnog, have one too many whisky’s with grandpa or have every glass of champagne handed to you at the Christmas party. Unfortunately these are fun but empty calories. The best course of action here is to decide how much alcohol you’ll have at any function, log it in your meal tracking app before you go and stick to it. That way if you want to have a few extra wines you can eat a few less calories throughout the day to accommodate.
Remember what your goals are
Remembering your goals every day is a great way to mentally prepare yourself to stick to the plan. This might mean that over the holidays you need a little extra encouragement. Adding some inspo pictures to your phone background or around your desk will help with this. You’ve been working so hard towards them so a progress pic reminder is also a great tool to help you with this. Do you know what it will be like once you achieve them? Visualisation is such a powerful tool – if you have a few minutes to spare visualise your goals and how you will feel once you’ve achieved them!
Let everyone around you know you have a plan
Sometimes it takes a friend to give you that extra encouragement that you need. Sometimes it’s your friends that are offering you that extra glass of champagne or piece of Christmas Cake. Letting everyone around you know what your goals are for the holiday season will help with sticking to the plan. If people know you don’t want extra alcohol they may think twice before they offer or, if you’re struggling to say no to that extra treat a friendly reminder might be all it takes to stay on plan.
You can recreate holiday recipes in a healthy way
I’ve been researching this a lot lately. I’m committed to a healthier me and that means finding alternatives to some of my favourite meals to support my dairy intolerance. I know this won’t always be possible especially for the Family Christmas meal where others will be cooking for me. However, I do a lot of baking in the lead up to Christmas, I usually make a Christmas Cake, Sugar Cookies, Gingerbread and I have a favourite Christmas dessert that contains a lot of cream.
This year I’ve had to find alternatives in order to accommodate this. There’s plenty of alternative recipes that will come up in a quick google search. I’ve also been curating my own on my Clean Eating Over the Holidays Pinterest board, take a look for some great ideas.
Have a plan for Travel
Holiday travel can be extremely stressful on top of that sticking to your eating plan in airports and gas stations isn’t easy. The key with this one is to have a plan before you go – decide on what snacks you would like to take with you and pack them into your bag so you’re not tempted by drive through or airport burger bars. If you’re flying long haul; look at the meal options on your flight and request what suits your plan best.
It’s not just the journey but the destination – research what you’ll be able to do to stick to your plan once you get there. Can you go to a supermarket straight away? Are there any cafes that cater to your meal plan in the area?
Don’t restrict yourself too much
Restriction leads to binging later on so the key is ensuring you don’t restrict yourself too extensively. If you want to have some of your favourite childhood treats – do it! Log them in your app and plan them in. Also, on Christmas Day or Thanksgiving or whatever celebration you have where your family comes together – plan to be unrestricted. You can reduce your calories over the days following but I distinctly remember a tweet from Kayla Itsines last Christmas that said to enjoy Christmas with your family. That’s what I intend to do and you should too!
Do you have any other great eating plan tips? Let me know in the comments!