Managing your Calories during the Holidays

The holidays are HERE!!!

It supposed to be a fun, magic-filled time of year.  I say supposed to be. If you are working toward a fat-loss goal this season is full of landmines. 

 Parties, family gatherings, simply the stress and cold weather can blow goals up and leave you feeling like you are starting all over after the festivities have ended.

The holidays are hard for me too stress-wise and food-wise.  Here is my approach to dealing with the food.  I wouldn’t say my family approves but this has to do with what I want and my body, not theirs, so they can keep their opinions.  

For the big meals our family celebrates, I try (yes that is TRY, I’m not perfect) to plan ahead by having a decent idea of what will be served. I believe the key for me personally, is not drinking any alcohol. This way I can keep the peace among guests if needed, I’m less apt to say what I really think, and my judgment isn’t clouded so I can still make good food choices.

Our gathering always has appetizers because it is a rare occurrence when the holiday meal is served according to plan. This part is really hard to plan for calorie-wise!  If I eat too much here, then I’m blowing up my plan!  I try to eat 1 piece of cheese and 1 cracker and then make sure I’m in the kitchen helping and not sitting or standing next to the appetizers.  I also have a cup of coffee which I need anyway and I find it comforting.

At the main meal, I love the dark meat of the turkey but it also has more fat, so I allow myself one piece and a couple carvings of breast meat depending on how big the cuts are.  I do not eat the skin. At Christmas, we tend to have ham and I carve off the big pieces of fat and I do not eat the edges that have the glaze or baste. I have about ½ cup of mashed potatoes (if they haven’t been mixed with cheese) and 1 cup of stuffing (if the stuffing is worth it that year.  Sometimes it’s not worth the calories).  

I always offer to bring a vegetable and a salad so I know there will be something I can fill up on if I don’t feel satisfied.  Yes, steamed broccoli on the Thanksgiving table doesn’t look as appetizing as the other stuff but I try to dress it up a bit by steaming with lemons in the water.  For the salad, I always serve with dressing on the side and an infused vinegar as an option.  I provide options to add to salad on the side as well, cranberries, dates, or non-dried berries, nuts, blue cheese etc so guests have choices.  If there is anything else I might like to try, I stick to 1 tablespoon.  I never, yes NEVER, eat a dinner roll it's just not worth the calories.  Oh, and maybe 1 teaspoon of cranberry relish and only if it is homemade. The canned stuff isn’t worth the calories to me either.

Dessert is tough but not so tough. I’m less likely to enjoy store-bought pies and will opt for coffee instead.  My kids often make one or 2 of the dessert options and they are very good at it so I’m obligated to try.  Also, this is the reason I’ve only eaten a small breakfast and then snacked on veggies all day.  I cut my own slices of pie so together they total about an inch on the crust, pass on the whipped cream or ice cream.  (I do hope there will be leftover pie to take home.  I love to eat the same amount for breakfast the next day!)
I do take a considerable amount of criticism from other guests and sometimes even the hosts. This can be hard to deal with at times So I keep these thoughts in the forefront of my mind. 

I always remember:

These are my goals, not theirs.

  • I will feel good about myself and my body tomorrow and the following days.
  • I really don’t care what they think, I am here to enjoy the company and less focus on the food.  If they have a problem, it's their problem and not mine.
  • Everyone makes decisions and many of the people judging those decisions do not see the value in what I am doing and they may be a little healthier if they took a page out of my book.
  • It's just one day and I can get through this 

This may not sound fun to many.  Yes, the holidays are a time to celebrate with friends and family but they should not derail you from your goals. They are YOUR GOALS and if you aren’t consistent then yes you have to start all over after the holidays.  

Everyone makes decisions and you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you have one day that's a little off.  If you want to stay on your diet during the holidays though, I hope some of my strategies are helpful to give you some perspective and helps you feel more comfortable with family and friends commenting about how you are not eating enough. 

And who knows you might inspire someone else by sticking like Gorilla Glue to your goals.