Oh, the holidays. We tell ourselves all sorts of little lies. “I don’t eat more during family dinners.” “I don’t like those holiday meals.” “I don’t drink more when celebrating than other days.”

If the practice met the reality, that would be great.

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For me, last night was a perfect example. My little lie is that I eat regular portions of food while at celebratory meals…

Keep in mind I’ve been eating less desserts recently. This makes my body happier. (My taste buds think I suck, fyi.) Last night, sadly, there was pie. Despite the wheat-free need, I took a slice of pumpkin pie, peeled the crust off, and savored the custard goodness. Hey, I DIDN’T put whipped cream on it! I also skipped the rolls, stuffing and gravy. Instead I took a small serving of creamy mashed potatoes with a heaping helping of mashed sweet potatoes. Aside from the two lovely slices of white meat turkey, the roasted cauliflower was the healthiest option on my plate.

Nobody looking at my plate would have thought I had all that much to eat. I can guarantee, however, that with the addition of the “pie”, I was sitting around at least 1,000 calories from that meal!

Here’s my advice. Treat the holidays like any other food day… because they are! Our bodies don’t know that it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s. To our bodies, every day has its own reset button for nutrition and exercise.

Here are a few survival tips to keep in mind for the next month or so.

  • Exercise in the morning. You may be getting ready to get into the car to travel to Grandma’s, but there’s no reason you can’t take 15-20 minutes and get that heart rate up. If you wait until after the meal, you’re more likely to take a nap than get out and move.
  • Keep your hands occupied and fit into the environment… without the booze. Who needs those empty calories, delicious as they may be? Instead, try one of these options:
    • Soda water with lemon/lime/cranberry juice. They’re flavorful and effervescent while staying low in calorie. Nobody will know you aren’t drinking a cocktail unless you choose to tell them. OR…
    • Ginger beer. I recommend drinking one, then switching to one of the soda water alternatives. It’s delicious, alcohol free, and packs a huge caloric punch. (My favorite is Bundaberg’s, which packs a whopping 164 calories per bottle thanks to the 40 grams of carbohydrates in the form of sugar!) Turns out that you aren’t saving many calories with this even if your liver appreciates the change!
  • Don’t skip meals to save room. You’ve heard this a million times. Skipping meals can be horrendous for your blood sugar and mood. I suspect many family fights during the holidays are fueled by people who haven’t eaten properly. Do yourself a favor and eat regularly.
  • If you’re like me and want to have dessert plus mashed whatever, what can you leave out? Rolls are typically a deliciously unnecessary calorie bomb.
  • It’s ok to decline! Don’t have room for all your favorite dishes? That’s ok! Better to say “no thank you” instead of feeling uncomfortable later.

Holidays can still be enjoyable without the overabundance. Did I leave out some tips you practice to keep on track with your meal plans for the season? Please share them in the comments!

Wherever you are, may you be filled with thanks every day for the situations you are in. Wishing you all a very happy Turkey Day!