Avoiding Holiday Pitfalls

Tyler Brown
BS, CSCS


Alright, picture this:

You’re going to a holiday party at a family member’s place. You walk in, everyone’s in the kitchen, so where do YOU go, too? That’s right, the kitchen. You say your ‘hello’s, and now what? Hey, look! A snack table!! Every “food” option you can think of! Cookies, pretzels, chips, licorice, pickled green beans (No? Just me?), and maybe a carrot or two.

Okay great, so you’re not hungry anymore, but now you’re thirsty… What are your options? Well, let’s see: There’s red wine, white wine, beer, more wine, and water (but let’s be real, who’s going to drink water at a holiday party?)

See where I’m going with this? The holiday season is a beautiful time filled with joy, peace, love, and weight gain. How are you supposed to avoid it? Everything is everywhere and everyone is eating it. How do you rise above the temptations? I want to offer 6 suggestions that have helped me and hopefully will help you.

Resolve Ahead of Time
Before you even get to the party commit to yourself or another that you won’t eat apart from the main meal and the main dessert. Why? If you eat treats, you won’t be very hungry for the main course when the healthier options are available. At dessert, you’re (of course) hungry again, so you eat then. Count up what you’ve eaten so far: Cookies, pretzels, chips, licorice, wine, wine, wine, and pie. Imagine this happens at every party you go to. Dang. Resolve ahead of time that you will only eat the main course and the main dessert.

Pace Yourself
If you’re going to multiple places in one day (likely), and they’re somewhat like the place we pictured in the beginning (very likely), then there’s a lot of potential here eat thousands of calories without even trying. Try eating and drinking either less at both places or more at one and less at the other. What does this look like? Resolving ahead of time that this is what you’ll do and saying… “No” (more on saying “no” later).

Don’t Stand at the Food TableThis is my biggest pitfall. Inevitably there will be a food table, the food on that table will look delicious, and I will answer its siren-like call promising happiness and joy, yet all I’ll end up with is a lousy stomach ache. I know that if I stand around the table, I will most likely eat everything on it. So, I try not to stand there anymore. This isn’t to say I stand in the corner by myself, I just stand further away from it instead of right next to it. This one seems obvious, but it really does make a huge difference.

Bring Your Own Drinks
If you’re resolving ahead of time to not drink any alcohol, one thing you can do is bring your own drinks. La Croix is a fantastic option for something fun to drink that isn’t alcoholic or excessively sugary. Filling up a water bottle and adding lemon, lime, or orange (or apples and cinnamon sticks!) is a great option as well.

Hold Something
If you feel forced to accept drinks because you’re constantly being offered them, try just holding something (like a drink you brought). One reason people “aggressively” offer is because you’re not holding a drink, and that makes them uncomfortable. You can even pour a drink you brought into the same cup that everyone else is using and it looks perfectly normal. No one needs to know. It’ll be our secret.

Say, “No, Thank You,” and Emphasize the “Thank You”
Saying “no” is extremely hard sometimes, not because you actually want the thing, but because you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. If you truly don’t want what is being offered, here’s a way to say “no” as loving as possible: Recognize the effort that the person put into it, make sure they know how much you appreciate them for doing that, and if asked, explain (kindly) your commitment to your personal health.

Going into the holiday season, let not fear and discouragement take you, make the commitment to yourself, and stride steadfastly into the battle for your health!

I hope these ideas help you as much as they’ve helped me.

Happy holidays!