Thriving Throughout the Holidays

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


I wrote Part I of this blog on Monday.  It discussed why people worry about “Surviving the Holidays”, and some of the misinformation accompanying that madness from the diet industry.  You can find it here.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-5-42-04-amToday, in Part II, I’d like to give you my Top 10, plus 2 (I’m an over-achiever) ways you might thrive, rather than just survive this holiday season.


In no particular order:


  1. Get some exercise. Not as “punishment” for eating! Rather, because movement is good for your body and soul.  It makes you feel better and it helps digestion.


How do I do it?  I have, historically, done a 5K Turkey Trot in the morning – sometimes organized, sometimes with just my husband, sometimes alone.  It’s not a group that makes the turkey trot, it’s the trotting before the turkey J




  1. Drink some water. Yes, this one again! Here are ten quickie reasons from this article why we should drink water:  (1) If we don’t drink water, we will die…more quickly.  While this should be enough to convince you!!, here are the others.  (2) Various research says staying hydrated can reduce risk of colon and bladder cancer. (3) Be less cranky:  dehydration can affect your mood.  (4) Hydration contributes to increased athletic performance.  (5) It helps you lose weight:  many times we’re actually thirsty when we think we’re hungry (6) Water helps decrease join pain. (7) It flushes out waste and bacteria. (8) Dehydration causes headaches. (9) It’s great for skin – the largest organ in our body!  And (10) It aids digestion.



How do I do it?  After my first cup of coffee, as I’m cooking and working around the house, water will be my drink of choice.  I’ll save the glass of wine for dinner.





  1. Have breakfast. “Saving your calories” for later may seem like a good idea, but it isn’t.  Skipping everything up to the “big meal” makes that meal even bigger!  You’ll be more hungry and therefore, more apt to overeat.



How do I do it? While I will limit snacks until our meal is served, I will have my normal protein and carb breakfast.





  1. Focus on the people, not just the food. Chances are that many of us will be with family and friends.  {Certainly not everyone.  If you’re experiencing the blues, clinical anxiety, or depression – which can all be magnified at this time of the year, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance from a qualified mental health professional.}  Spend time having conversations, playing games, and enjoying each other’s company.


222015_1880275359124_5667102_nHow do I do it?  I love the interaction.  I’m the one who suggests a game or asks questions that might be pondered, and give us an opportunity to truly talk.  I’m leery of sitting out snacks during this time.  It’s super easy to eat the entire bowl of peanuts while talking, without even being aware of it.



  1. Fill your plate differently. Start with some type of protein, then add vegetables.  Starch comes last.

How do I do it?  I promise you, I AM going to have a little bit of everything that makes this holiday special to my palate.  I love cranberry sauce, stuffing, and pumpkin pie with – a fair amount of – whipped cream on top. I’m going to start, though, with turkey, carrots, and a little sweet potato.  In re-reading this, I noticed I’ve inadvertently typed “a little bit” and a “little”.  Exactly!!  Priorities first and then just a little bit of everything else.


  1. Stuffing is for the turkey: not you. There is no reason to eat until you are uncomfortable, and chopping on Tums to help with heartburn. You know how that feels and it’s not good.


How do I do it?  See #5, I will start with my turkey and veggies.  I’ll add a spoonful or two of everything else.  Once I’m finished with the plate, I’m going to sit my fork down and wait 10-15 minutes (see #4, I’ll be talking).  At the end of that time, IF I’m hungry, I will get some more.  I will not eat because, “If I miss this opportunity, I will not get mashed potatoes and gravy or those yeast rolls for a whole year…”   Plus, while the pie might have tasted absolutely fantastic on bites 1 – 3, bite 20 has lost some of the original appeal.  I’ll just stop.


  1. Clear the food away right after the meal. If it’s sitting out, you know you will pick. Not because you’re hungry but because it’s there.


  1. Move a little in the afternoon. I know how easy (and typical) it is to eat mountains of food, be too full to move, and crash on the couch in front of the television for the rest of the day. That’s all cool.  But, if you see #6, by not stuffing yourself, you will feel better.  Go for a walk.  Play a little soccer of football with the family.  Then turn on the game.




How do I do it?  This is a perfect time to chase my grandchildren around.  We could go for a walk, ride bikes, check out the playground, or throw rocks at the lake.  The possibilities are endless.  The fresh air is good for body, soul, and digestion too.







  1. Remember that this (one day) is the holiday. We have a tendency to stretch the holidays out and act as though the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is one continual holiday.  When we start eating as if the holiday starts on Saturday (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or even Wednesday), it will continue through Thursday night.  On Friday, there will be leftovers to take care of.  By then, we’ll be getting close to Christmas (Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, or Festivus) – and then we’re getting close to New Year’s.  Oh, what to heck?  We might as well wait for January and start fresh at that point.  Sound familiar?


How do I do it?  I enjoy the family time, the meal, and special foods of the holiday.  I don’t turn it into a “season”.  That means Monday – Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I’ll eat my normal, nutritious food.  I won’t have pie until Thursday.  I will freeze some food on Friday rather than thinking I have to eat it all.



  1. Enjoy the food you do eat. Unless you have an impending physical competition, enjoy a piece of your grandmother’s pecan pie or Challah French toast.  Try your sister’s cornbread stuffing, latkes, mincemeat, or egg nog. Those of us fortunate enough to be able to celebrate, should be grateful for the opportunity.  Enjoy family, friends, and yes, food.




How do I do it?  I’ll be mindful of everything I put in my mouth.  I’ll savor each taste and texture. I’ll sit down, or at the very least stand in one place.





  1. Stop eating out of guilt. Just because somebody made this food, and it’s sitting there, doesn’t mean it’s your job to eat all the food!  We all have that pushy co-worker or family member. Don’t make a big deal of it.  Take a little piece of whatever they’re offering if you feel you must.  Have a bite or two but don’t feel like you’re required to eat it all.

How do I do it?  My mom is a pusher! Always has been.  She shows love by baking.  Somewhere along the line, I had to come to the realization that blaming her for the amount I was eating, was just an excuse.  She made the food.  I ate because I wanted to.

I’m just saying

  • Don’t have it just because somebody else is.
  • Don’t complain about your food choices.
  • Don’t play the “poor me, I can’t have that” card.
  • Don’t die-t!!
  • Make consistent nutritional choices for YOU – and own that decision.


  1. Control what you can control. You might not be able to change the crazy hectic schedule but you do have the choice of going back for that second plate of food, or not.  You choose whether you’re going to munch, even when no one else is around.  You can choose to go for a walk.


You can pick 1 or 2 things out of this list and set them as personal priorities for the day.  I would love it if you did!  I would love it even more if you’d share your experience with me.

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