Dieting Success Over The Holidays
Author: Dan Beck
The clocks have turned, and we are a few short weeks away from Christmas and only a little longer to the new year! Today we are going to talk about strategies you can use to make sure your diet doesn’t go off track through the Holiday season.
If you have a plan to start fresh on January 1st and not worry about your diet until then, I encourage you to consider starting NOW. There are ways you can still enjoy Christmas foods and festivities without going off the rails. If you need help setting up a plan to reach your goals, check out this awesome free nutrition calculator or reach out (my contact information is on the bottom).
We are going to focus the brunt of this article around this meta-analysis study that looked at weight loss intervention adherence and factors promoting adherence (it’s just a fancy study that looked at how people STICK to their diets).
Let’s assume you are either already dieting or you are going to start today. First, we are going to look at how to have higher adherence to your diet in general, and then we will dive into a few great strategies for making it through Christmas day.
The 3 primary variables found in the research that impact adherence are:
- Diet Supervision
- Social Support
- Dieting alone better than exercise alone
It’s no surprise that if you have someone keeping you accountable for your diet and food logs you are more likely to stick with it. When it comes to this supervision, there are a TON of options ranging from health coaches to registered dieticians.
It is important to note here that a health coach / nutrition coach can only give you recommendations. A registered dietician is the ONLY person who can prescribe a diet to help with a specific medical issue. Both are great options to create diet supervision if you remember to consider their scopes of practice and your personal needs.
It also helps to find a coach or registered dietician that has some training and education with mental health as well to compliment your new changes and make sure you maintain good mental health through the process.
Social support is something that is also a huge component of adherence. Can you imagine trying to eat healthier and everyone around you pushing doughnuts in your face? It usually doesn’t pan out well. Even if you have the discipline in the short term, when unhealthy options are continually pushed upon you or you are peer pressured to do unhealthy activities, diet adherence can crumble.
Creating social support can be a few things. Ideally, you want to have your family to be encouraging you rather than peer pressuring you into unhealthy habits. While this is the ideal social support, it doesn’t always work out that way. Another strategy is to use a “buddy program”. Find someone who has also made a commitment to a diet and hold each other accountable. A buddy program with three people? Even better.
Dieting Alone Better than Exercise Alone
While exercise is IMPORTANT and we are by no means encouraging a “one or the other” mentality, the research has demonstrated that if you focus on diet alone you will have better adherence.
You can take a short period of time to only focus on diet if you haven’t been to the gym in a long time and reintroduce exercise as you become more comfortable with your dieting.
Two Easy Strategies for Eating on Christmas Day
Now Christmas day is here, what the heck do you do? Let’s focus on two primary strategies to still enjoy Christmas without derailing your diet that you’ve worked so hard on.
Instead of dieting ON Christmas day, increase your calories to maintenance calories (you can calculate here). This allows you to enjoy the more calorically dense Christmas food without making you GAIN weight. As a rule of thumb, if your current diet is set up to help you lose 1 lbs. per week you can add back 500 calories and 1000 calories for a 2 lbs. per week rate.
Lastly, if you are tracking your macronutrients daily (check out our blog on “A Beginner’s Strategy to Working With Macros”), just focus on hitting your maintenance calorie goal and protein goal. This will give you more flexibility on Christmas day so you can eat that cookie and not be stressed out about its impact.
In closing, START today and focus on these adherence principles and implement those two easy strategies for Christmas day. If you have any questions or need some guidance, please don’t hesitate to reach out! As a thank you for making it all the way to the bottom of this blog, feel free to use the code NUTRITIONJUNCTION at midwestmeals.com for a free meal ($9.00 value).
In Good Health,
Dan Beck, Owner of Midwest Meals
NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist
- Jesse Westover