Since the beginning of November, our nutrition coach, Rebecca Naeve (aka Becks), has been dropping weekly nutrition tips in our private member Facebook group. The goal is to provide actionable advice to help everyone stay on track while still enjoying the holiday season.
Holidays come with lots of delicious food. If you work in an office, you’re probably faced with platters of cookies and other treats on a daily basis. You’ll be faced with tons of your favorite dishes at parties that aren’t exactly “Paleo”. Add in stressors like travel and big gatherings, and you have a recipe for falling off your fitness game.
The holidays should also be about enjoying time with friends and family and indulging in some of your favorite treats. It’s an incredibly special time of year!
How do you balance the two—relaxing/indulging and staying on track? Here are a few of the tips Becks has shared with our group. If you’re a member, you can check them all out here in the private group!
Everything that follows is from Becks with a few small edits!
Stick to the basics
When it comes to nutrition and improving your diet, it’s tricky to know where to start. The good thing is you can make a lot of improvements, simply by not overcomplicating things!
What does “sticking to the basics” look like in practice?
- Eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, and good protein sources (eggs, seitan, tempeh, etc.)
- Try to avoid processed foods (typically, anything with a laundry list of ingredients on the label).
- Make sure every meal contains the following: a protein source, vegetables, a little starch (sweet potatoes, quinoa, rice, etc)., and a little fat (think avocado, olive oil, etc).
- Stay hydrated! Challenge yourself to drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning BEFORE coffee (you’ve gone 6+ hours without any water!), and keep a reusable water bottle on your work desk or in the car with you so you always have it.
If all else fails, EAT MORE VEGETABLES!
Navigate the party buffet
You’ll probably find yourself at some sort of social gathering with a myriad number of tempting options for you to taste. How do you enjoy the delicious food without falling completely off track?
- Fill up your plate with as many vegetables as possible (yes, that party platter with bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower counts…just skip the ranch dressing!).
- Aim to get a palm-sized serving of protein.
- Add a thumb-sized serving of fat (cheese, avocado, olive oil, etc.).
Voila! You have a well-balanced meal that should keep you full. The more nutrient dense foods we eat (foods that provide lots of substance), the less likely we are to want to snack on things that don’t provide much nutritional value (chips, cookies, candy, etc.).
Additionally, if you know there won’t be a ton of great options there, eat before you go. Nobody has to know! The less hungry you are upon arrival, the less likely you are to go crazy on treats or other indulgences once you arrive.
Aim for “good” instead of “perfect”
Delicious treats (cookies, in particular) are E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E during the holiday season.
So, what are you to do? Never have sugar again? Completely cut out cookies, despite the appalled looks you’re getting from co-workers, friends, and family? Put yourself on a crazy strict diet with super restrictive rules that are completely unreasonable to maintain for more than a week? NO!
Eat the cookie – yeah, we said it. Our goal should be to “aim for good instead of perfect” — or, aim to be consistently good instead of inconsistently perfect.
Perfection doesn’t exist, and if you restrict yourself from something for long periods of time, there is a much greater chance that you will eventually go off the rails. If you ate super well all day, and then decide to have a cookie at night, that does NOT mean that you “ruined” anything. That cookie didn’t “undo” anything. Simply because you weren’t “perfect” does not mean your other efforts throughout the day/week/month are ruined.
If holiday treats show up and you really want one, that’s ok — just make sure that you’re still eating good stuff throughout the rest of the day, and drinking lots of water. A good way to approach this is the 80/20 rule: eat the healthy stuff 80% of the time, and 20% of the time, allow yourself some indulgences. The more you restrict yourself on something, the harder it’s going to be to stay away from it…unless you never, ever leave your house, which is unrealistic.
Creating balance is a topic we see thrown around a lot, but it can be tough to implement – tough, but NOT impossible. Strive to be consistently good, rather than inconsistently perfect.