Holiday Season and Weight Management: 5 Challenges to stay Zen

Intuitive eating
Weight loss
Healthy eating
table food holiday

The Holiday season is a much anticipated time of the year; for its warm atmosphere & family/friends gatherings around a good meal. This festive and unifying time can bring its share of stress for some people, including those who are in the process of losing or maintaining their weight.

So if you feel challenged, here are some situations that can bring stress and challenges to help you see these situations in a positive light so that you can remain zen instead of anxious.

Situation 1 – The Famous Buffet

Tonight is the Christmas buffet; but you are concerned about your weight management. You know that you often eat too much food at this type of dinner, so you reduce your food intake considerably during the day so that you can ‘spoil yourself’ at night.

Consequence: You may lack energy, possibly be irritable and have headaches during the day. You are less likely to take the time to enjoy food at the buffet and eat excessively.

Challenge: Aim for a full breakfast and lunch during your day and maybe even a snack before a late meal so that you can eat moderately at dinner.

Situation 2 – Restricting ‘Bad Foods’

You choose the lowest calorie foods from the buffet to aim for lower energy intakes.

Consequence: This can lead to an inner frustration of not being able to taste certain foods that look delicious to you and can lead to overeating later on.

Challenge: Choose only the foods/dishes that look tasty to you; whether they are the “healthiest” or the least “healthy”. Enjoy them. Take the time to talk with family members or friends and ask yourself through your bites if the feeling of hunger is still present. When food becomes less tasty, or if you think that someone would steal your plate and it wouldn’t bother you, then you are no longer hungry.

Situation 3 – Lack of Physical Activity

You will spend the next 4 days with your parents who live in further regions. You don’t particularly like going to the gym, but knowing that you won’t be able to go makes you anxious because you think it could be a major obstacle in your weight loss process.

Consequence: This unnecessary stress could have a negative impact on your relationships with your family members. Then, if you see physical activity as just a way to lose calories for weight loss, you are less likely to do this activity in the long run and enjoy all the other benefits that physical activity has to offer: stress reduction, general well-being, improves sleep, improves overall health (glycemic control, blood pressure, cholesterol…)

Challenge: Make the most of these family moments by including sports activities and/or active games. Ideas: Skating, ice hockey, sliding, cross-country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing/walking in the woods, making a fort, having a snowball fight… In addition to losing a few calories you will have the chance to spend great moments with your family, enjoy the pleasures of winter and maybe even discover a new passion that will be beneficial for your long-term health.

Situation 4 – Dessert

An aunt insists that you try her new dessert. You are no longer hungry and don’t really feel like tasting it. You don’t want to be rude, so you accept.

Consequence: The dessert will be much less tasty than if you had tasted it at a time when you were really hungry. You may eat more than you need.

Challenge: If this kind of situation arises, gently refuse, explaining that you are simply not hungry anymore. You can offer to take a piece of dessert home; the person will probably be very happy to make you a small dish.

Situation 5 – Guilt

This same aunt has offered you a taste of her homemade butterscotch. You didn’t really pay attention to your hunger and satiety signals. After ingesting the food (which was my delicious faith…) you feel guilty!

Consequence: Feeling guilty is useless and can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.

Challenge: Don’t be too rigid with yourself. It’s not a few extra calories that will make you gain 10lbs. Remember to return to a normal balanced diet and an active lifestyle as soon as possible if you’ve been overdoing it.

To conclude, weight management is multifactorial. It may be more difficult for some people to reach a desired weight. One of the modifiable factors in weight is the adoption of better lifestyle habits, but it can be difficult, if not very difficult, to make changes.

The holiday season is a small part of the year, but listening to your appetite is key, even in a time of wealth. If you think this way even during the holidays, you will find that your weight loss or weight maintenance will be much easier and more enjoyable. And we’re not talking about depriving yourself, we’re talking about enjoying eating while listening to your body.

If you would like to be better equipped before the holidays or at any time during the year, our Team of Nutritionists are available to support you. We wish you Happy Holidays! Have a lot of fun, get some rest & above all have a great time with your loved ones.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist