Healthy Holiday Tip of the Week : Creating Your (Ch)Eating Strategy

OK, OK, I know.   Cheat?  What on earth? Before you jump to the conclusion that I’m going to tell you to do a cheat day each week during the holidays during which you partake in Egg Nog Lattes, Pumpkin Bread and Christmas Cookies, hold on one sec. We’re not talking ‘cheating’, but strategic eating and planning around which events make the most sense to partake of holiday festivities from an eating and drinking perspective. In other words, is it really worth it to go nuts with that tray of store bought holiday cookies and cheap wine your colleague brought to that boring, obligatory office party? Wouldn’t it be far more enjoyable to indulge in a homemade chocolate truffle and a glass (or two) of your favorite glass of wine? Here are my top five tips to create a plan, now, for the next six or so weeks taking us up to the New Year.

  1. Map out your holiday events on the calendar.  From the parent’s gathering at your kids’ school to the neighborhood potluck to the gala at your spouse’s boss’ home- list everything out in front of you and decide which are the ones most likely to offer the best circumstance for enjoying something special.  What will be served?  Who will  be there?   What will the venue be like?   Far more enjoyable and worth it to be sipping a neat vodka in front of a fireplace with a few close friends than downing glass after glass of boxed wine just to get you through yet one more stressful holiday party.
  2. Determine which foods you can tolerate an plan the occasional indulgences accordingly.   If you’ve gone gluten / dairy / soy/ grain / bean / sugar free to clean up your eating act for a month, and do not have any diagnosed medical conditions, you may decide to test and see how you react to any of the aforementioned potentially inflammatory foods.    I won’t touch gluten with a ten foot pole but over the years, when I’ve tested dairy, while I don’t like how I feel (congested), the ramifications short term of drinking a splash of full fat, grass fed cream in a cup of coffee, for me, is far less than what would occur if I were to have a bite of a cookie.   Choose your own little bit of wiggle room based on what your body tells you is, or is not appropriate
  3. Build your day backwards from the event.  Are you going to an evening holiday party where you’re planning on partaking of alcohol, dessert or other foods or beverages that have become atypical on your eating regime?     Make sure you’ve exercised (starting the day in the right mindset is far more likely to keep you there from an eating standpoint), kept hydrated and eaten ample fat / veggies and protein, as you’re going to be getting plenty of refined carbs in that dessert or drink!
  4. Plan your routine for the next day, too.   Not to be mistaken with creating an absurd caloric deficit before or purging after the fact, simply putting your mindset into one with regular physical activity, along with the fact you’ve planned out your holiday treats will keep you from emotionally feeling you’ve done something wrong and that you’ve then got to claw your way back.  If you planned it. you never deviated in the first place!
  5. Promise yourself you’re going to enjoy this small pleasure.   At the end of the day, a piece of flourless chocolate cake built into an eating plan rich in vegetables, wild proteins and healthy fats isn’t going to send you down a rathole but could actually keep you out of one.  Many clients find that this small bit of enjoyment on the palate actually lands them January 1st not only without having gained weight, but sometimes a few pounds down!