Happy Holidays, nutrition coach Kayla Dias Hunter here!
Let’s be real. The holiday season is one of my all-time favorite parts of the year; but it can be stressful!
And when our to-do lists become overwhelming, it’s far too easy to fall out of the practice of staying intentional and making mindful decisions when it comes to our nutrition.
As a nutrition coach, I’ve had clients who become so stressed about maintaining their normal routine during the holidays, they miss out on enjoying quality time and shared eating experiences with family. I’ve also had clients who, previously, would throw caution to the wind from November to February (because YOLO) and then spend months following trying to “undo” the results.
My recommendation during the holidays is to position yourself somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios. Give yourself the space to enjoy what you love while remaining mindful of what makes YOU feel at your best.
I know, easier said than done!
Here’s a quick “Mindset Check”, or journaling, exercise you can incorporate into your preparations for the holidays if you’re concerned about falling back into old habits or giving into the temptation to mindlessly indulge:
1. What’s been working for me?
Generally, the folks who get the most riled up about what to do during holiday celebrations are those who have established a routine that they don’t want to sacrifice, either because they enjoy it or it’s been getting them results.
If that’s you, rather than bringing pre-cooked meals to holiday dinner or worrying about “ruining” your tried and true daily routine, try to identify 2-3 things that have been working for you and can be maintained with minimal added stress.
Is there a snack you love that might help deter you from picking mindlessly throughout the day?
Is there a specific water bottle you use to track your fluid intake?
Is there a certain drink you have every morning to get your day started?
Bring these things with you! If you’re staying with family members who host for the holidays, there may be limited space in the fridge. But, coffee, tea, even your favorite sweetener or snacks can stay in your luggage or take up minimal space in the fridge and be readily available when you need them.
Do you usually have 4 meals per day? Or, do you typically have veggies with every meal?
These can be a little trickier to maintain, especially since holiday eating tends to revolve around just one large meal. My family has always skipped breakfast entirely, spent half the day cooking and gathered for one late afternoon meal. This is where coming prepared by bringing something to snack on during the day really comes in handy! You can make sure those snacks include vegetables and/or, when you make your plate, consider making sure you head to the veg first.
Remember the key here is to identify things that won’t cause you stress! Plan ahead to the extent that you can and work with what you’ve got.
2. What’s going to nourish me today?
This question is intentionally vague.
I challenge you to be radically honest with yourself here! It’s not a trick. Leave your self-judgement at the door.
You may feel like the answer should be “salad, lean protein, hold the buttered biscuit and just a thin slice of pie.” My friend, listen! If the real answer is “quality time with my loved ones and a tall glass of red wine”, HONOR THAT.
Sometimes the very thing that causes us to mindlessly consume (or overindulge) is a hyper-focus on food. If you decide what’s going to nourish you is choosing to focus on your relationships and being present for your family, OR if what will serve you most and allow you to have an amazing day with your loved ones is a hearty home-cooked meal… live your life!
For the last few years, I’ve packed some pre-cut veg and ingredients to make my morning matcha. This year (after 3 incredibly busy months of traveling abroad), my focus has been on reconnecting with my family and enjoying their delicious home-cooking.
Don’t be apologetic or feel guilty about what YOU need. One day is sorry competition against consistent healthy habits!
3. If things don’t go as intended, what 3 things can I do to nourish myself thereafter?
We can’t predict the future. Things happen. What we can do is have a plan.
One of the most common mindset challenges I’ve witnessed in my clients is associated with thinking they can “redeem” a night of mindless indulgence by restricting their eating the following day.
The best thing you can do is simply get back to your normal routine.
Now, depending on your holiday travel situation, this may not be immediately possible. That’s OK! What are 2-3 things you can do to nourish your body?
A couple of tips here:
You may be inclined to run to the nearest gym and bust out the most intense workout you can find. Getting up and moving--getting your blood circulating--is generally a good idea. But you’re not doing yourself any favors by running your body into the ground.
Again, get back to your normal routine! Getting a walk in, at minimum, will do you some good. At the same time, don’t underestimate the benefits of prioritizing water intake and a solid night’s sleep!
All in all, the idea is to…
Get clear about what you need and what will nourish your body, mind and spirit this holiday season.
Plan accordingly to help navigate your travel or family arrangement with minimal stress, and
Come with a strategy to get back into the swing of your normal routine whether or not things go to plan.
Give yourself permission to do what’s going to serve you.
Wishing you a wonderful and nourishing holiday season!
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