How to Keep on track with your health goals during holiday season

One of the hardest times to keep on track with our health goals is during the holiday season – Christmas and New Year, up to Australia Day at the end of January and even up to Easter. In the US and Canada, Thanksgiving Day in November is the start of the holiday season. Summer in the Southern Hemisphere is a time of beach, school holidays, barbecues and celebrations, while winter in the Northern Hemisphere is a time for hearty meals, staying indoors in front of the fire and eggnog!

It has to be the most challenging time of the year for people trying to keep to their health goals. This post will discuss some of the ways you can manage temptations during special events. It will also help you to prepare some strategies before the holiday season.

A collage of tempting, unhealthy food that people may face over the holiday season.  Pancakes and icecream, fried  food, alcohol and large servings of Chinese food
So many temptations during holidays and celebrations. A collage of tempting, unhealthy food that people may face over the holiday season. Pancakes and icecream, fried food, alcohol and large servings of Chinese food

How to Manage Temptations at Events

If you are having a celebratory meal or gathering of any kind, inevitably the menu includes food that is high in calories and alcohol, and wouldn’t be normally in your day to day diet. Some suggestions to deal with these situations are:

  • Take your own platter with healthy food to share. This is my number one way of dealing with these situations! Try using my recipes for a savoury and sweet grazing platter – or combine both for a really interesting platter
  • Eat a small portion of the food on offer
  • Drink water in between each alcoholic drink
  • Take your own beverages
  • If you don’t want to drink alcohol but feel pressured to, order a drink that looks like an alcoholic drink e.g. mocktail, lemon lime and bitters or soda water. I’m a fan of Kombucha which is really refreshing and doesn’t include many calories.
  • Drink less high calorie alcoholic drinks like a wine spritzer or vodka and soda water. There are low carbohydrate beers and diet mixers as well
  • Order a salad with the dressing on the side. Salads are often covered in dressing in restaurants and that is where all the calories are
  • Many restaurants list how many calories or kilojoules are in their food. Some of them even publish it online so you can research the venue before you go.
  • Don’t go to an event with an empty stomach
  • Don’t order a 3 course meal. Just a main meal is usually ample. My husband and I share an appetiser or dessert if we really feel like another course
  • Don’t stand near the buffet! Take a small plateful and walk away
  • Space out your meal. Give your body time to feel full. Only eat until you start to feel the signals that you’ve had enough
  • Having said that, if I know that I’m about to blow my calorie allowance for the day, I plan for it in advance and eat lightly for the rest of the day. A small breakfast and a salad for lunch counterbalances a blow-out for tea.
  • Learn to be assertive and say “no thank you” when offered food. This was always a challenge to me but I’m getting better at asserting myself
  • Accept that some situations are going to be out of your control. If you’re eating to plan during the rest of the week a day of overeating is not going to affect you long term.
  • Enjoy that blow-out meal! You deserve it.
  • Don’t neglect your exercise regime during holiday periods. You will feel so much better if you exercise on days that you’re consuming a large number of calories. Even a walk in the morning before an event will help
  • Try to make celebrations around activities rather than just feasting and getting drunk. Do something active like a picnic at the beach or a bush-walk. Even active party games can take the focus off eating and drinking. Have a game of cricket after Christmas lunch!

How to Keep On Track With Your Health Goals During Holidays and Special Occasions.  Shows a group of people at a party
How to Keep On Track With Your Health Goals During Holidays and Special Occasions.

I hope these suggestions will help you to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season. The most important thing is to prepare beforehand. Acknowledge that sometimes eating unhealthy food can’t be avoided. In that case, enjoy the meal and get back on track the next day.

Survival guide for the Holiday Season

This is perhaps the busiest time of the year for most people.  Stress starts to build as we head towards the major events of the year.  This year has already been stressful for most people so the holiday season will leave us even more frazzled.  

Even if you love all the celebrations, the added toll you put on your body with parties will lead to fatigue.  Many people end up stressed and broke at the end of the holiday – they feel like they need a holiday to get over the holidays!

Think of all the upcoming events you and your family will have in the next few weeks and months:

  • School – Exams, Graduation, Formal and then Back to School;
  • Work – Completing projects, End of Year Parties.  Some industries are heading into their busiest time, e.g. retail;
  • Events – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year.

An offer for you: free e-book

Survival Guide for the Holiday Season

My Survival Guide for the Holiday Season will help you stay healthy during this busy time.  You will get:

  • A guide to healthy eating, self care and exercise;
  • A planner to guide you to set goals for staying healthy;
  • Weekly trackers – checklists to keep you on track.

Sign up now to receive this survival guide completely free. It will help you to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season. More details at the link.

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If my readers have some other solutions on how to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season, please share them in the comments. I would love to know how you deal with social events and the “silly” season.

Shared on Denyse Whelan’s Linkup Life This Week.

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  1. I actually don’t have many events – no kids, single and currently not working… so no end of year parties. However… I’m completely with you on the water / something non-alcoholic in between alcoholic drinks. And I definitely like the idea of not always arranging unhealthy options but doing something that doesn’t necessarily revolve around food and over-eating.

    1. Hi Deborah, It’s so true that many events involve food and over-eating. It’s part of our culture I guess. Alcohol seems to be a feature as well but I stair clear of it these days because it makes me feel terrible! Thanks so much for commenting, regards Christina

  2. Great tips thanks Christina. I am trying to drink more water at the moment, I tend to forget how better it can make you feel!! I also like to try for balance around holiday times but it can be hard as you say. I have pinned this to share with others #lifethisweek

  3. Hi Christina – I can’t believe we’re already heading towards Christmas again. This year has gone fast but also slowly too – it’s all been a bit Alice In Wonderland-ish for me at times. Thanks for your tips – they’re a good reminder for the holiday season, but also for these months that I’m at home and close to the pantry!

    1. Hi Leanne, the year has been similar for me. I can’t believe it’s the end of October but at the same time it’s dragged because I haven’t worked for most of it. In a way it’s easier to control my eating when I’m not working because nurses love their snack food, cakes and chocolate. But I’m not walking as much so I have to purposefully ensure I stay active. Thanks so much for commenting, regards Christina

  4. Thank you for these wonderful tips! Beginning with family get-togethers next month, I always find it difficult to restrain myself this time of year. Maaybe the pandemic will be a blessing in disguise for those of us who struggle to control ourselves around the holidays. Fewer and smaller gatherings mean less temptations.

    1. Hi Laurie, yes that is very true. I suspect the celebrations will be a lot more subdued this year. Or maybe people will really let their hair down from being so restricted! It’s hard to avoid overeating when food is so nice at this time of the year! Thanks so much for commenting, regards Christina

    1. Hi Jenni, yes I agree buffets are too tempting for me as well. It’s hard to resist trying everything on offer. Eating before the party is a great idea. Thanks so much for commenting, regards Christina

  5. Good tips, Christina. Canadian Thanksgiving is in October so we have more weeks between our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays than our American neighbours. Keep up a regular exercise routine, moderate eating and drinking, especially alcohol beverages which are packed with empty calories, and go for healthy choices usually work for me. #lifethisweek

    1. Hi Natalie, yes I didn’t realise that Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving on a different date to America. I wish we had it in Australia because I love the sentiment behind it. Your suggestions are great. I would feel terrible without my daily walk and so I ensure I keep it in my schedule even on days like Christmas. It helps me clear my head when I have lots of people around as well. Thank you so much for commenting, regards Christina

  6. Very timely post. I tend to not eat sugar (despite baking as much as I do) so am fine saying no to desserts but am notoriously bad with wine and those fabulous dippy savoury platters – although am trying to do more of those with veggies. Great tips.

    1. Hi Jo, I love savoury platters too. But then, I love desserts just as much! My challenge is to stick to small servings but it’s really hard when the food is so delicious. Thanks so much for commenting, regards Christina

  7. This was a very timely post I see, as we head into the ‘silly season’ which actually may be less silly than previously now I think about it…good old COVID. I sure do have to limit what I eat…as my mouth can only take so much. We are very small portion eaters in our household of 2 for different health reasons.

    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week’s optional prompt is 43/51 Inside 26.10.2020. Hope to see you there. Denyse.

    1. Hi Denyse, sorry about the slow reply to your comment, I missed it. Yes I think the “silly season” will be a bit different this year. Not as many gatherings I’m sure. There’s always too much food around – too tempting! Small portions are the way to go. Thanks for commenting, regards Christina

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