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  • Writer's pictureBrittney daCosta Banning

Managing Weight & Food Anxiety During the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for many, especially if your weight isn’t where you want it to be. As lovely as all the holiday parties and social get-togethers are, it means you'll be surrounded by palette-pleasing got-your-name-on-it calorie-dense foods for weeks on end.

The reality is that, statistically, most people gain less than a pound during the holidays. I think it’s safe to say most people would agree that’s not a big deal in exchange for the enjoyment that comes out of the multitude of positive experiences. Even so, the idea of restricting what you eat during the holidays fueled by the desire to "look a certain way" can be rooted deep and take over our minds and emotions.

So how do you navigate the holidays without all the stress, unease, guilt, and anxiety that can come with it? While there’s no firm answer for this, these are a few tips and tools to help you ease the burden, lighten your mood, and help make this season more relaxed and enjoyable.

Cycle Your Calories (to Maintenance)

Being on a diet pretty much always means you’re going to be food focused. If you’re in a deficit long enough, that food focus can turn into a fixation. Add to that being surrounded by an abnormal influx of calorie-dense foods, and it makes sense you’d begin to feel out of control. This is why we recommend coming out of a calorie deficit and back to maintenance prior to your social gatherings. Doing this one thing removes your body’s psychological pull to eat processed calorie-dense foods at every corner for fast, easy-to-use energy. Instead, you’ll be more in control of your decisions about what and how much to eat. As an added bonus, an increase in calories for a period of time after a deficit will keep your metabolic engine running strong, help you build muscle, and prime your body for even more efficient fat loss when the holiday parties subside.

Don’t Skip Meals

You’d think it makes sense to skip breakfast and lunch so you can bank your calories for dinner. But unfortunately, this plan often backfires. If you go into a huge meal starving, you won’t be able to think coherently. Eat a normal breakfast and lunch at your usual times. This way when dinner comes around, you’ll be hungry as usual but not so hungry that you feel you need to eat everything in sight.

Eat Your Protein

Leading up to dinner, make a point to choose your meals around your protein source. Protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients so again, eating enough (like your would on any other day) is going to keep the overly loud obnoxious hunger signals at bay. Plus most of us enjoy high-fat and carb-heavy foods the most during holidays dinners so this way, you end up with a good enough balance by the end of the day.

Prevent the Bloat

Allowing yourself to eat whatever it is you know you want most, be it the most fattening carb-loaded dish on the table… along with a few veggies. The fibrous veggies will help fill you up and more importantly, keep your digestive system from completely backing up the following day. (Post-holiday constipation is never fun).

Write it Out

Ask yourself how you're feeling leading up to your next get-together. Are you anxious/nervous/stressed? Write it down. The first step to getting past these feelings is to create awareness about the fact that they're there in the first place. And then after you get home, ask yourself how you're feeling again. Do you feel guilty? Are you angry with yourself? Do you feel satisfied or like you missed out/screwed up/insert negative emotion here? If journaling is your thing, it can be helpful to write down these thoughts but even jotting them down in a notes app on your device can be helpful. Getting it down and out of your system – and understanding why those feelings are there – can help you work it out before you waste unnecessary time beating yourself up. Or it'll at least start the process of healing your relationship with food. Either way is a big win if you ask me.

Don’t Weigh Yourself

As I said above, on average most people will only gain just under one pound during the holidays. But if you weigh yourself throughout the season, you’ll likely gain more weight than that. But it’s just that… weight. Weight can be a number of things like sodium, water retention, undigested food, etc. Plus if you continue your strength training routine, you may see some muscle gain and mistake it as "bad" weight gain. So instead of panicking about one or two pounds because of a number that doesn't mean that much anyway, put the scale somewhere you can’t access easily. If you happen to gain a pound or two… so what? You can lose it come January.

Get Back on Track

Get back into your routine as if nothing crazy happened. Nothing crazy did happen after all. You simply enjoyed an experience with loved ones around a meal. There’s no point in punishing yourself with exercise. {You likely won’t burn more than a hundred calories so that extra five-mile run you force yourself to do isn’t going to burn much anyway). And there’s no point in restricting yourself in the coming days. The only thing that’s going to do is lead right back to the vicious cycle of restricting to binging. Instead, workout and eat like you normally would any other time of year regardless of how much you indulged.


The holidays are meant to experience positive quality time with loved ones. You won’t remember how much you weighed or what or how much food you ate anyway. What you will remember, though, are the laughs and smiles you shared. So while it’s never as easy as 1-2-3, with a little planning and continuous mindset work, you can make this season the most memorable one yet. While you’re at it, you’ll be priming your metabolism for efficient fat loss come January… when there won't be such an abnormal amount of delicious calorie-dense foods around every corner (and on every countertop).

If you'd like some extra support to get you through this season, schedule a free call with one of our team members to learn more about our signature 1:1 online coaching program where we've helped hundreds of others ease their food anxiety and reach their physique goals.

As always, memories over macros.



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