Bah Humbug to Your Holiday Food Restrictions

By Taylor Carr, MS, ISSN-SNS, PN1

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Time for family to gather together and give thanks. Time to put up the Christmas tree or light the menorah. And, of course, time to bake those delicious holiday treats!

As a nutritionist, this time of year brings a lot of questions my way about how to “not cheat” during the holidays. Climbers want to know how they can “stay on track” this time of year. Before you ask me for my favorite low-fat, zero calorie, sugar free, kale-packed cookie recipe, I have to tell you: that is not a thing in the Carr household. We strive to enjoy all aspects of the holiday, including our food choices.

My holiday cookies contain flour, sugar, and butter. There are recipes all over the internet for “healthy” or “skinny” or “guilt-free” cookies using things like black beans (what!), kale, or stevia to make you feel like you’re making the “right” choice. Yeah, and I’m sure they taste exactly the same…

I stay pretty open about the things I eat with my athletes, but some people might be surprised to learn that the coaches here Pin on Christmas at Climb Strong don’t eat just protein and vegetables. Good nutrition is not just about avoiding the “bad” foods. Food is data. Like in a science experiment, our food gives us feedback on how it is affecting our bodies, nutritionally and physically. It is not a reward, punishment, escape, fuel, etc. It is information to help us understand how we feel, emotionally and physiologically, and how we connect to those around us. Whether we realize it or not, food brings us together. Sitting down to share a meal brings laughter, story-telling, and allows us to engage with family and friends. It can also connect us to our heritage and is a part of family traditions.

I’ve never been a fan of the words “good” and “bad” food. While there are some foods that serve our body and our training goals better than others, specific foods are not a part of our moral compass. Consider that what we eat is a choice. When you choose to eat one thing, you are really telling yourself, “This is important to me.” Our choices do have consequences, however. Each decision is a calculation of the consequences. So we may be asking ourselves during this holiday season, “What is important to me right now?” Is it time with family? Feeding your soul? Passing along family traditions? The first bite of gingerbread? Surviving your crazy family?

 

Let’s be honest, holiday cookies taste best when shared with friends and family. Enjoy some real ones for me this holiday season. Or your other favorite holiday food or drink. 

Like I coach my athletes all times of the year, enjoy your foods slowly and mindfully. Take time to savor that apple cider. Taste each bite of pumpkin pie. Be present with family and friends. Look for moments of joy without feeling guilty over your food choice. You can also practice eating to 80% full. Instead of mindlessly diving head first into pumpkin pie, be mindful about your fullness levels. 80% generally feels like “satisfied,” but not “full.”

Not sure where to begin?

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I understand that this type of mindset change is not easy. It is okay to feel like a Christmas miracle won’t come to where you suddenly feel guilt-free for eating certain foods (especially- around judgy family members). Just remember that your health journey can only be made better with love and a little Christmas spirit.

Many climbers I meet take their training and performance with an “all or nothing” mindset. You yourself may feel that if you aren’t giving 100% then you will never make progress or send that project in the spring. Eating perfectly is never the goal in nutrition. Even though you may be eating more cookies, pie, or mashed potatoes than usual, you can still make progress toward your goals with mindful eating.

So what can you do instead of obsessing over your nutrition? Think about your current food choices. When you have already established a well-rounded diet of lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables throughout the year, those holiday treats are only a small portion of your overall diet. Remember that it isn’t “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong.” It is a decision that is right for you and at the right moment. Elf' Spaghetti Sundae Served at Chicago RestaurantThink about the joy that comes with the holidays. The special family time that we all love. Hearing messages of joy and peace. Sharing gifts and laughs with friends. Savor those moments. Food and non-food related. Check-in with yourself and with others. Make the most of the time you have. Reach out and give back. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own journey that we forget everyone is on their own journey. Let go, for just a moment, of your own body and food decisions and look to others.

 

However you celebrate, enjoy all that comes with this special time of year.

Happiest Holidays + Happy Eating!

Taylor

ABOUT TAYLOR CARR

 

Taylor has a dual Masters in Sports Nutrition and Strength and Conditioning. She also holds a certification through Precision Nutrition and is a certified Sports Nutritionist through the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). Taylor got her climbing start on the beautiful granite of North Carolina. She has since moved to Lander, WY with her husband to be a nutrition and strength coach at Elemental Performance + Fitness.

Taylor works with athletes of all backgrounds to educate and instruct proper food fueling and nutrient timing. Taylor believes that with a functional nutrition plan, every athlete is able to better reach their unique climbing, fitness, and lifestyle goals. She is also passionate about helping individuals heal their relationship with food. Taylor offers one time consultations, monthly custom plans, and long-term coaching.

 

 

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