7 Tips For Enjoying Holiday Food Without Quitting Your Goals

Hey everyone, I know it’s the day before Thanksgiving, so if you’re traveling you may have some trouble implementing these tips.  But they really work any time you are headed someplace and you aren’t in control of the food!

First things first, I want to say that I LOVE Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday, by far.  The only expectation is cooking tasty food, and eating it – there’s no stress about shopping or finding “the perfect gift.”  Just getting together and telling stories and making memories!

But for many of us who’ve struggled with food addiction, we have a hard time with a food-centric holiday.  If you’re on a weight loss journey, you may feel like food holds you captive.  And that can make you dread food-related holidays and gatherings.  Or, even worse, give up on your goals completely during those times.

You don’t have to be a slave to food!  A lot of these tips are about food, and what to eat, but the idea is to set you free from the mindset of “well, I can’t have anything on the table, so I guess the food plan starts over January 2!”  No!  One meal does not have to derail you for an entire holiday season!  Try some of these ideas, let me know if they help you!

1.  If you’re invited to someone’s home, offer to bring a side dish that you cannot resist – then remake it to fit your plan.  Pinterest is your friend!  Try searching “21 Day Fix friendly” or “Whole 30” recipes – these terms will help you makeover almost anything.  Personally, I’m making mashed potatoes in my Crock-Pot (love this method- no draining!!!), and mixing them up with coconut oil and coconut milk to keep them dairy free.

2.  Snack!  Especially if you’re travelling to your meal, pack on-plan snacks (I would do raw veggies and some hummus, or apple slices and almond butter).  Just watch portions, and time it so you’re still ready to eat at meal time.

3.  Get your veggies in.  So many holiday meals are carb-heavy; try to fit in veggies in other ways.  The fiber will help keep you full so you don’t overindulge at the main table, and on most plans you can eat as many veggies as you want without ruining your progress.  Watch out for veggies-that-are-actually-starches (corn, green beans, etc.) and extra sauces!

4.  Portion control is your friend.  So you’re sitting at a beautiful table filled with all kinds of amazing goodness, and you really just want mashed potatoes and gravy (or maybe that’s me).  You can have some!  Here are the guidelines:

  • Get the veggies first – green salad, raw veg platter, easy on anything with a sauce
  • Lean protein – white meat turkey is actually really good for you (just take the skin off – sorry).  A serving size is about the size of the palm of your hand.  Keep that in mind when counting how many servings of protein you had.
  • Fruit – if there’s uncandied or not-sugared fruit, grab some.
  • Starches – mashed potatoes, stuffing/dressing, yams and sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls – use the palm of your hand as a measure again.  Not literally, because that would be weird.  But as a general idea of appropriate serving size – try to stick to one potato-type and one bread-type.  Your plate should already be pretty full anyway!
  • Fats – gravy, dressings, etc. – For this, I suggest measuring with a teaspoon.  The idea is to get the flavor of the gravy without going overboard on fat.  Fats and salad dressings are the number one culprit for hidden calories – if you control it here, you will feel so much better about yourself when the meal is over!
  • Dessert – you have permission.  Enjoy one piece!

5.  Get out for a walk before or after dinner.  Collect some leaves or pine cones for a craft, see some new sights, make some new memories.

6.  Refuse leftovers.  This is more difficult if you’re hosting.  I’m having visions of my children doing a Jack Sparrow impression: “But why is the gravy gone???”  But here’s the deal – if you can’t resist it or control portions in the days following the holiday, it’s not worth keeping around.

7.  Remember that it’s one meal on one day.  One meal does not have to throw you off for the entire day, weekend, trip, season….  You are more than the food you eat.  You get together with family and friends to make memories – so make some!  Let go of the guilt – it overshadows the time and takes away from your enjoyment of the actual day.

And whatever happens, you will get another chance to make healthy choices.  Even if you overindulge at Thanksgiving or Christmas, you can start over at the next opportunity.

I hope you have a safe and blessed holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

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