Navigating Holiday Eating 150 150 Stephanie Thompson
Holiday season is in full swing for most of us. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Mid-Winter Festival, the full moon, or nothing at all; I hope the final few days of 2019 are filled with safe fun, friends &…good FOOD! Food is the centre piece of most gatherings. Heck, I even eat food in the car on the way to an event (ha! You know you’ve done it too, don’t lie). But it’s a tough time of year to try to stick to your routines and stay on track to reach your goals (remember your 2019 NYR?). Whether you are working hard in the gym to gain weight, lose weight, or increase performance, your nutrition is at the core of your success. Don’t panic, I’m not taking away holiday baking from you. It would be so easy for me to sit here & say “don’t eat any junk food, don’t drink, no candy cane hot chocolate, or fancy breakfasts Christmas morning”. Because, as social animals, the idea of not partaking in fun events, avoiding desserts, or bringing your own chicken, rice and broccoli might piss Grama off, cause unnecessary stress & ultimately affect your enjoyment of time with family and friends. It’s proven that happy people perform better. So let’s set realistic goals for this holiday season & keep the smiles on our lips. A couple things to think about as you navigate this holiday season: #1. Your brain is a jerk. It hates discomfort and will sabotage your healthy eating plans every time it gets the chance. Awareness is the first step. My hope is that you are in a headspace to make conscious decisions around food, instead of rolling on auto-pilot between now and Jan 1 when you write out a list of goals for the next year. #2. You are not a puppy. You do not require a reward every time you do something good. #3. Eat to support your training, don’t train to support your eating. This is along the lines of #2. but going to the gym does not need to be rewarded with food, and you shouldn’t feel the need to do 2 hours of cardio because you went to a Mandarin Buffet. Eat the gingerbread cookie because you want it & will enjoy it. Then move on. #4. Go easy on yourself. You’re a human being not a robot. If you “mess up”, hop right back on the horse and try again. A failure isn’t someone who fails a lot, it’s someone who QUITS. As a little blue fish once sang “just keep swimming”.   A couple rules to follow if you want some structure to take the stress off: #1. You should know when your holiday parties will be. Take extra care in eating high quality foods at all other times. Consistency is your biggest friend #2. Focus on what you can control. Again, this goes with #2. You can only fully control 3 things; the images you hold in your minds eye, the thoughts that you think, and the actions that you do. You can control your day-to-day nutrition choices, you can control your training regime, and you can control some of the activities you can do over the holidays. After dinner ask if anyone wants to go for a walk, offer to make a snowman with your nieces & nephews, choose to walk around the mall not use a motorized scooter (hahahahaha …of course, unless you do need that). You can’t control what food will be available, so know your Canada’s Food Guide & focus on lots of fruits, veggies, high quality protein,  & whole grains. #3. Drink lots & lots of water. Dehydration not only destroys performance, but it affects your complexion, satiety, how well you sleep and aids in digestion. If you’re drinking alcohol, go to the party well hydrated, choose a glass or two of water every few drinks, and don’t forget to rehydrate later on that night and throughout the next day. #4. Indulge, but be in control. How to manage cravings & the dessert table: A) Ask yourself, “am I really hungry, or just ‘snacky’?”. Do you want to know how I know? If I’m not willing to eat a bag of veggies, then I’m just bored & snacky. B) Control the serving size. Choose something small that you can really savour and enjoy. My family chops up desserts like nanaimo bars, dollies, and cookies so you can pick a couple of each. Or, in this case, one or two and ENJOY. C. Finally, pick your poison. You’ve got plenty of opportunities to indulge over the holidays. Instead of either extreme (avoiding all junk, or eating everything in sight), choose one thing to enjoy at each event. Tonight it might be wine, tomorrow Grama’s butter tarts, New Years Eve dive into the appetizers. If you value both your health and your social time, be smart with both. You can do it. I believe in you. Sitck to your routines 80-90% of the time, and take your foot off the gas and enjoy the season the other 10-20%. Ps. I can always help you eat your leftover treats if you can’t control yourself. *wink   Thanks for reading! If you love the posts, share them with a friend. If you’ve got a specific question, hit me up on the below socials, or email! & if you haven’t already, follow @empoweredperformance on Instagram, Facebook & @fit_nut_curl on Twitter.

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Navigating Holiday Eating