Simple Nutrition Guidelines for Holiday Parties

So here we are. It’s “the holiday season” and you know what that means!

Actually, it could mean a lot of things for different people. On a practical level, it can often mean a busy time of year with a variety of social obligations—holiday parties for work, with friends, with other friends, with friends of friends and/or with family.

And with all of those holiday parties comes the wondrous variety of foods that your gracious hosts (and, in some cases, fellow guests) will set out for you to enjoy.

Yum!

Or AHHHHH!!!!

Or both.

We get it: holiday parties often feature a selection of foods that you might not normally eat.

Or foods that you want to eat but don’t eat as often as you’d like because you feel like if you did, well, it would just be messy.

But you were invited to the party and it’s not like you’re going to just not eat anything. That would be rude! (And frustrating).

And so it is, in the spirit of the season, that we would like to share with you some easy to follow guidelines for navigating holiday parties and all of the food on offer:

Desserts and other Sweet Stuff

Yes. We’re starting with desserts because we’re all adults here and if we want to start with dessert, we can.

If you see a yummy-looking dessert or treat at a party that you feel tempted to eat:

Christopher Reece/Scopio

Eat the treat and enjoy doing so.

Savor it. Take your time with it. And when you’re done, wait for ten minutes or so and then take note of how your body feels.

Notice how your body feels with no judgement. This is a party, after all. It’s a useful practice to make a point of noticing how your body feels after you eat food.

If you suspect that you might end up feeling guilty about eating a tasty dessert at this party, consider limiting yourself to just one serving. Know that it’s ok for you to indulge in eating whatever you feel like eating…as long as you don’t go overboard.

“Junk Food”

First, let’s have a brief chat about this whole “junk” food idea.

Food is food.

There is no “good” food and there is no “bad” food.

Different foods have different nutritional makeups, and different foods will have different impacts on different bodies…and even then, a lot depends on the quantity of the food and the current state of the individual body…all of which is to say there’s no such thing as “good” food or “bad” food.

By extension, we might as well get rid of the idea of ‘junk’ food as well.

Sure, some food will provide more nutritional benefit than other foods…but there’s also something to be said for the enjoyment of the food.

So, if you are at a party and there is “junk” food on offer and you feel like eating it:

Eat the “junk” food and enjoy it.

Savor it. Take your time with it. And when you’re done, wait for ten minutes or so and then take note of how your body feels.

Notice how your body feels with no judgement. This is a party, after all. It’s a useful practice to make a point of noticing how your body feels after you eat food.

If you suspect that you might end up feeling guilty about eating some tasty “junk food” at this party, consider limiting yourself to just one serving. Know that it’s ok for you to indulge in eating whatever you feel like eating…as long as you don’t go overboard.

Savory/Rich/Heavy Foods

This is a popular non-dessert food category for holiday party food. Foods in this category often include lots of delicious cheese or sauces or gravy. Sometimes they involve crescent rolls.

If you are at a party and anything from this category of food catches your eye (or nose) and you feel like eating it:

By Jonathunder – Own work, GFDL 1.2,

Eat the savory/rich/heavy yumminess and enjoy it.

Savor it. Take your time with it. And when you’re done, wait for ten minutes or so and then take note of how your body feels.

Notice how your body feels with no judgement. This is a party, after all. It’s a useful practice to make a point of noticing how your body feels after you eat food.

If you suspect that you might end up feeling guilty about eating a yummy savory/rich/heavy dish at this party, consider limiting yourself to just one serving. Know that it’s ok for you to indulge in eating whatever you feel like eating…as long as you don’t go overboard.

Day-After Exercise Strategy

You know that whole ‘I’m gonna exercise extra-hard today because I ate so much yesterday’ idea that somehow manages to persist out there in the collective consciousness?

Yeah, that’s not how it works.

It’s bullshit.

Not based on any sound science at all.

So, the day after a holiday part where you may have indulged in some sweet treats, “junk food” and/or savory, rich or heavy foods, don’t do anything differently.

If you would normally do a workout, then do your workout. Your normal workout.

If you don’t have a workout scheduled, then don’t work out.

Bonus/Optional Strategy

If you find that you are consistently experiencing some dissatisfaction with the foods on offer at holiday parties, consider a pre-party meal. This way, you are in complete control over what you eat and you’ll arrive at the party less hungry.

Pressed for time before the party? Consider a protein shake. Or a protein bar.

Couldn’t get a pre-party meal or shake or bar in? Not too worry. Just use the guidelines above and enjoy yourself!

Looking beyond the holiday season for a more long-term strategy? Consider our Nutrition Coaching program. We’re both Precision Nutrition Certified Coaches and we use a simple, easy-to-adopt, habit-based approach to nutrition that’s tailored to you and your life. Wanna know more? Drop us a line and we can chat.

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