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Holiday Survival Guide

Holiday Survival Guide Caroline Tussing, RDN, CPT 

December 1st, 2022

Strategies for staying on track with weight loss through the holidays. You smell the crisp autumn air, the days are shorter, and you start to hear Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” everywhere you go, at this point you know that the holidays are coming. It can be extremely difficult to stay on track with weight loss during the winter months for a number of reasons. Motivation to stay on track can be easily thrown out the window with the constant disruptions that the holiday season can bring. Luckily the NOVA Physician Wellness team has got your back! Below are some common obstacles associated with the holidays and the winter season with some realistic solutions for optimizing your progress. 

Constant gatherings and celebrations 

Every week there seems to be a new reason to gather, eat and drink with friends and family. Try your best to avoid going into these gatherings overly hungry. Avoid skipping meals or fasting beforehand in order to “save calories.” This will only set you back metabolically. Instead, have full, balanced, high-protein meals throughout the day in order to manage your hunger. Have a high-protein snack before the party - this way, you will go into the event with a stable appetite and you will control portions better. 

No healthy choices are available at a gathering 

Parties and gatherings are often centered around delicious foods. Look for any source of protein and veggies and eat that first. Fill up on the healthy options (especially lean proteins) in order to promote satiation before indulging in other foods. This way, you will avoid eating large amounts of higher-carb foods, which tend to be less filling. 

Exercising outside is limited with shorter days and cold weather Exercising outside can be unrealistic when the sun sets at 5 pm. Try a new form of exercise for these winter months. Walking videos on youtube can be helpful for simulating outdoor walking in the comfort of your own home. Other strength training exercises like circuits, yoga, and pilates are available on youtube and through phone apps. Don’t be afraid to switch up your workouts! 

Traveling more frequently 

Traveling can make meal options unpredictable. Maximize your progress when you are home and in more control of your food choices. Sometimes a more realistic goal of maintaining your weight is necessary for heavy travel periods. Plan to get back into your routine quickly after returning home. Get groceries delivered, plan meals before the trip, and schedule in your exercise for when you return home. While traveling, consider bringing protein bars/shakes to stabilize your appetite between meals and ensure adequate protein intake. 

Being on the go while preparing for holidays 

Shopping for presents, parties, and traveling can make it difficult to focus on adequate nutrition. Bring protein bars and shakes with you to stabilize your appetite and avoid relying on fast food. Have a full balanced meal before and after long periods of driving. Consider bringing a cooler or insulated lunch box with high-protein snacks for the car. 

Wanting to enjoy holiday foods 

Don't be too restrictive! Enjoy the holiday and your time with family! There's no reason to miss out on holiday festivities. Restricting yourself too much can lead to increased fixation on the foods that you are missing out on. Avoid the “All or nothing mentality.” Remember that one meal is not capable of ruining months of progress. Try to avoid taking leftovers home if possible to help you get back on track quickly. Practice some mindful eating techniques (see below) during parties while indulging in your favorite foods. Try to keep meals balanced up until and right after a celebration to maintain steady progress over time. 

Practice mindful eating 

Do anything you can to slow down your eating and avoid distractions: Chew thoroughly 

Pay attention to flavors that you are tasting - describe them in your head 

Put the fork down in between bites. 

Stop eating when you are 80% full. 

Pay attention to how the food makes you feel. 

Avoid eating in front of a screen (TV, computer, or while on your phone)

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