Ok, full disclosure - I'm not really one for the holidays. Any of them. I know, I know bah humbug and all that but seriously! None of them turn my proverbial crank ... but imma still go to the fam jams and eat all the food
I think there's a lot of emotion around the holidays. Family drama and unresolved childhood frustrations can rise to the surface - that work is a whole other blog (right?) but I'm speaking more to the emotions around food at holiday dinners and all of the side effects that can come with that.
Food intolerances, embarrassing gut symptoms, pain, social pressures or your friends and fam not supporting your nutritional habits...fear of 'falling off the wagon' or gaining weight.
Trust me, I see it and I get it. It can be really hard. But it doesn't have to be...
Walk with me here as I list 5 ways that you can protect your emotional and physical body from complete disappointment this holiday season, so you can walk out of winter and into spring with minimal work to do to 'get back on track'.
Sounds good, right! Right. All you have to do is try them, then discover new ways of showing up for yourself and your health!
1. Bring your own food. Yea, I said it!
One thing I've noticed as a nutritionist over the years is a fierce fear of judgment from others when it comes to exercising healthy boundaries around food.
Asking the waiter to modify a dish, taking supplements at the table, asking questions about the meal or requesting a special dish at a friend's dinner party can all be situations that cause serious anxiety for some.
The fear of judgement or ostracization is real! When in that state, one is in their sympathetic state (fight or flight) and that can make us shut down, not act from a place of self-love and ultimately pull us out of ketosis (more on stress, blood sugar regulation and the keto diet in an upcoming blog).
I say fxck it! We MUST show up for ourselves, our goals and our health as much as possible. I know you who are sitting here reading this truly cares for your health and your goals and you want OUT of the cyclical pattern that's keeping you from experiencing long-lasting results.
Well, to do so you must change your patterns and behaviours. What does it take to get in the best shape of your life, and stay there?
Many things lol
And one of them is to think ahead, pre plan, cook and bring food to places where you know you'll be screwed if you don't.
I think a healthy way to approach this is to kindly let the host know you have some food limitations and need to come prepared. You really don't need to get into it with them and detail your latest blood labs, just a simple explanation will do.
If judgement or passive-aggressiveness is thrown your way, that's a whole other conversation that needs to be unpacked. There are ways to manoeuvre through that without heated or frustrating confrontation (can be difficult with some families, but possible!)
Though keep in mind, we ALL have the right to protect our health and bodies how we see fit. This includes carefully choosing the foods we put in our bodies.
Not sure what to make and bring to your upcoming holiday party? Check out and download my FREE keto dessert recipe book.
My personal fave is the roasted pecan nut butter. Would be an amazing addition to put a dollop on any dessert or just a spoonful right in your mouth!
2. Don't expect people to be mind readers. Communicate.
If you're not into bringing your own food then the next best thing is to ask for others to help you stay on track.
Again, get it out of your head that you're annoying, high maintenance, a bother or dramatic. Food is literally entering your body non-stop, every day, and that food has an effect on your immune system , gut health, liver health, hormonal health, cognitive health etc. You're 100% allowed to protect your vessel and organs how you need to so you can continue being your healthy, happy bad-ass self.
In my opinion there is no single more important thing to focus on daily to keep your baseline health in check than food. It determines how you will feel everyday and truly is medicine.
So...asking your host if they are able to create a dish or two that caters to your specific needs makes sense, right? Think about it...does it feel like self care? Self love? Do you feel protected and safe knowing that you'll be able to show up to the dinner and eat, relax and leave feeling good?
Stop putting yourself and your needs second, third or even last.
You matter. Your needs matter. And with loving and clear communication with those surrounding you it can work. Promise.
3. If you fall off, get back on. Right away.
The all-or-nothing mentality is self-sabotage at play and truly in all its glory. I've been there, so no judgement. But seriously, how much sense does it make? My insane thought process used to go like this:
"Ah fuck it, I just went off my diet. Look, my body is already changing and I'm losing aaaallll of the hard work I've just done of the past x weeks. Ugh!"
K...so not true. Not even a little bit.
Our bodies don't work that way. The hard work you've put in doesn't just fall away after one, or even 5 'bad' dinners. Your body wants to perform for you. It wants to get back to homeostasis and stay there.
All you have to do is stay consistent. Not perfect.
Ill say that again....Just stay consistent. Perfection doesn't exist, so let that go.
Try to adopt a position of self-compassion!
Ok, so I had a dinner with lots of gluten, dairy, wine and sugar. So what!? That's gonna happen over the course of our lives from time to time. Let it go.
Let it go, then get right back on the horse the next day. Clean eating, supplements, practise self love and give the body what it craves....consistency.
It will course correct. Throwing it all away and sabotaging what you know to be a good path for you is, in my opinion, believing you're not capable of long-term success with a healthy lifestyle. And that just isn't true...ANYONE and everyone is capable of cultivating a consistently healthy lifestyle. It begins with getting back on the horse every time you fall off. Every single time.
4. Drinking and eating don't mix.
I know this is a hard one. Drinks before, during and after a big celebratory dinner is classic! I have also been there and know how damn good it feels...but it wreaks havoc on your body composition goals and liver/gut health.
There's a process called oxidative priority and it determines how your liver will metabolize toxins and nutrients. Drinking alcohol while eating just throws a wrench in the whole 'imma lose weight and stay lean' plan. It just does. So read up on it and make a decision...does drinking while eating really make that big of a difference for me or can I separate the two and be kinder to my body?
5. Keep working out. You'll regret shelfing it. Promise.
Again, this plays into the whole self-sabotage/all-or-nothing game.
If you have a bad night, or even a few bad nights, don't throw it all away. It's AMAZING what happens when you get out of your head, jump off the hamster wheel and just refocus!
Let it go. The dinner happened. The drinks happened. You can't take it back and probably don't want to. It's fine! That's life. Let. Go. Of. Perfection.
What does excellence look like for you?
What behaviours, thoughts, decisions does the 'excellent' version of yourself have?
For me, it might look like this:
Dinner happened (whatever that may look like).
I may get gastro symptoms of gut pain, gas, bloating - whatever.
I recognize that I made a conscious decision to throw caution to the wind and I hopefully had a great time throwing it.
I remind myself that tomorrow is a new day. I can do a workouts, drink a green smoothie, have litres of lemon water and a good sleep...and everything will be jus fine.
Within a few days I'll be back on track. Looking like myself again, feeling clear and happy again...and definitely not stuck in a shame spiral about my decisions a few days prior.
Life goes on. Just get back on the horse. Love yourself. Be patient and kind to yourself. You deserve it.
The holidays are hard for me for a multitude of reasons...but taking stellar self-care around food and workouts and healthy social boundaries are not what makes it hard...it's what makes it easier <3
Be well with hope,
Cassandra Hope RHN + CPT
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