1 simple rule to avoid holiday weight gain

Yep, it’s that time of year where you’ll find your calendar jam-packed with holiday parties. Whether it’s work, your spouse’s work, parents, in-laws, friends…everywhere you look there’s one more person trying to load your plate with homemade pie and shortbread.

What are you supposed to do? How is someone meant to resist all that temptation? Do nutritionists just lock themselves up at home or stick to eating lettuce leaves? Do we have insane willpower?

Nope. None of the above. Before I get to how I do eat, here’s what my thought pattern used to look like many years ago:

“Okay I can’t let myself eat too much or indulge today, I ate so much cheesecake and fried finger food at the party last night. And then there was that brunch. Okay, I need to get back on track so I’ll just eat some salad and chicken tonight”.

*10 minutes later*

“Oh God this party has creme brûlée. Maybe I can revise my strategy…I mean it IS the holidays and this is when I’m supposed to indulge. I mean everyone gains weight, it’s unnatural not to this time of year… I’ll hit the gym hard in the New Year anyway! Let’s do this!”

Here are the two things that are wrong with this self-talk:

  • If you try to restrict yourself and stay away from indulgences, one of two things will happen: a) you’ll snap at some point and eat an entire cheesecake, and feel guilty afterwards; b) you’re going to use up a lot of mental energy trying to stay away from food, which is honestly pretty draining.
  • On the other hand, if you tell yourself “it’s okay it’s the holidays, I might as well eat my face off”, you’re setting yourself up for destructive behaviour in the long-run…and not just when it comes to food. You’re training your mind to run wild and throw common sense, self-discipline and respect for your body out the window at the sight of a special occasion. And special occasions will ALWAYS exist: weddings, birthdays, beach vacations, holiday parties etc. If you’re prone to this type of behaviour, you may find yourself struggling to find control your weight year after year, or find discipline in other areas of your life as well: drinking, waking up on time, having an exercise routine etc.

So what’s a sane person to do?

Focus on the word “respect” at your next holiday party. Give your mind the respect of not playing “willpower” games with it and avoiding food, and give your body the respect of not giving it more than it can handle. 

I know, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Being able to not overthink food, indulge a little and then move on, is a skill that times time. But the first step that you can take is simply becoming more aware. Be aware if you’re denying yourself too much at a party. Be aware if you are eating to release stress, feel happy, find excitement or to fill a void, and then work on other areas of your life to meet those needs.

After a while, it’ll come to you like second nature. You won’t overthink, your portion sizes will reduce, and you don’t feel deprived or unsatisfied because you’ve given yourself permission to taste whatever you’d like. If you still have lots more holiday parties to go to, I challenge you to keep the word “respect” top of mind, and see how that changes your behaviour!

About Alina

I'm a Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, Canada and my official title is Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP). I received my diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. I'm a coach and an educator. Follow Alina on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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