“Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, “Feliz Navidad”, “Happy New Year”
These are the typical greetings and salutations one will typically hear during this special time of the year. It’s not often you hear, “I hope you suffer, are hungry, and have anxiety around your family during the holidays.” Unless the Grinch is a member of your family, that is.
Thus, to start off the age-old practice of giving nutritional advice around the holidays, I want you to rest assured that I will try to serve up this topic with a sense of humor wrapped up in a delicious layer of science and packaged in an eco-friendly set of bullet points.
● First of all, remember that 1 month out of the year does not define you and will not make or break your previous year (2023) nor will it affect your upcoming year (2024). If you gain weight, fine. If you lose weight, OK. If you miss a couple of workouts, no big deal. Focus on the bigger picture.
● What is your big picture? What do you want to achieve during these holiday periods? Some may want to relax a bit after a tough year, while others may want to take this time to start on their New Year’s Resolution (more on that later). Decide what you want to achieve and plan your actions accordingly.
● Seeing as though you are reading this on the Ate blog, you probably are trying to be health-conscious. In this case, here is my best advice: keep the holiday meals to the exact day of the holidays. Don’t go YOLO at every holiday dinner or party you attend. Remember, the deeper you dig the hole, the harder it will be to climb out of in 2024.
● The holidays are meant to be a time to spend with family and friends. Don’t bring your food scale, don’t talk about how hard your diet has been, and don’t judge others for what they put on their plate. Just try to be kind and respectful and keep things light.
● Calories from alcohol and drinks are easily overconsumed during this time and are quickly processed by the body. If you are looking for a way to be more mindful and aware of your consumption, the first place to start can be around alcohol and sugary drinks. Pick and choose a couple of events that you know you would like to drink a little more, and for the rest of the time try to keep it to a minimum.
● Focus on your mental health rather than your physical health. The holidays can be very stressful with all the shopping to do, decorations to put up, events to plan/attend, relatives to put up with, and End of Year deadlines at work. Whatever happens in December, you still have the rest of the year to make up for it. Try and enjoy yourself without the added stress of whether you gained a pound or two.
● Although New Year’s Resolutions are very popular, they really aren’t the top goal-setting activities. Start with a New Month Resolution (January), set a goal that you would like to achieve by the end of that month, and repeat the process for 12 months. It’s a lot more effective than setting 1 goal for 1 whole year that you will most likely forget by March.
This concludes the umpteenth time you’ve read a “How to Eat for the Holidays” article or blog post. I hope you have come away with at least one little chicken nugget of wisdom to put on your healthy holiday platters.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays. I wish the best to you and yours!
Tom Mourikis is the founder of AZLO Coaching, a nutrition and exercise service with a focus on mindfulness, education, and accountability. He has degrees in Movement Sciences and Physical Education, as well as certifications as a Nutrition Coach (NASM) and a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA). After having previously lived in Chicago, Athens, and Guangzhou, Tom currently lives in Lima, Peru, with his wife and 2-year-old son.