The Holidays

The holidays are almost here.

With the holidays come endless gift baskets of food, parties with tons of food and not much time to workout. What are some good strategies to help from falling into the trap of over-eating junk food?


  • Mike StackMike Stack Member, Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    This is such a rich question @Stephanie Carroll. I'm sure a number of people on our team will chime in, I'd really like to hear what our registered dietician @Bella Diaz has to say!

    I'll throw in a few of my favorite strategies to get this started:

    1) Go in with right mindset, yes junk food is around a lot, but if you think about it, junk food is around the rest of the year too and most people do fine (again I said "most" people, some people struggle no matter what, see number 2 for my suggestion there). With that said, try not to set yourself up for failure by being overly concerned about the amount of junk food that around. The same discipline you can use in September exists in December, you just have to apply it.

    2) Construct your environment properly. Food environment makes such a big difference, and the best thing I can tell you here "is out of sight, out of mind." If you can find a way to keep the holiday food out of sight (not going into the breakroom at work as frequently, getting it out of the house, having your coworkers keep bowls of candy in their desks, etc.) you'll notice you'll consume less of it. This is backed by a large body of research that shows if it's in sight, you'll eat it.

    3) Every time you eat some holiday "junk" food, drink 16oz of water. The process works like this, have one serving of the "junk" food (say a cookie or a handful of nuts or whatever it is) and then drink 16oz of water. After you've had the water walk away from wherever the junk food is (note: you'll probably need to keep you water with you if you're going to drink it after you eat, so walking back to get your water typically isn't a good strategy).

    4) Shift your eating patterns to something healthier during this time of year. I realize this might seem counterintuitive, but stay with me here. If you know there's a chance you can over-consume "unplanned" calories during the holiday, then plan to consume healthier calories (and fewer of them) during your planned meals. For example, focus on protein, fruits, and veggies in every meal and then save the additional carbs (and calories) for the less than healthy holiday fare.

    5) I'll end with one of my favorites b/c it's a simple one (in theory, harder to practice), I call it the ONE RULE and it's basically limiting yourself to ONE serving of whatever you're eating; so one serving of nuts, one serving of cookies (which is one cookie), one handful of popcorn, etc. You really limit the caloric effect of what you're consuming if you eat only one serving of it.

    I hope this is helpful. AFS team, provide more suggestions, I know there's many many more we can provide for Stephanie and the rest of our clients.

    Michael E. Stack, BS CFP CSCS*D CPS
    AGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist

  • Stephanie CarrollStephanie Carroll Member Rank ✭5✭

    I appreciate the comments and feedback on this topic. @Beth Manoogian I LOVE the idea of sharing healthy party/holiday recipe ideas!

  • Heidi MorrisHeidi Morris Member Rank ✭7✭

    One of my favorite ways to help with the unexpected extra holiday treats-

    if I am at a party or something where cookies or dessert are present, instead of not eating them at all, I tell the host I would like to take some home for breakfast. I know, sweets for breakfast isn't the most healthy option out there. But, first, I believe sweets always need to be paired with coffee IMO. And then I don't always end up eating them, because they don't seem quite so tempting at 5:30am. But if I do eat them, I feel quite satisfied the rest of the day with avoiding any other future sweets I run into because I know I already have had a treat.

    As a bonus, I feel like I am not shunning the hosts baking or buying dessert efforts, and, I don't appear to be some proud non-dessert eater either :)

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