April – Day 21

How to Handle Holidays & Special Events

Some of you may be thinking that this plan is great in the privacy of your home, or maybe even at work (besides the snide remarks from your jerky co-worker!), but what happens when you need to go out in the “real world?”

We’ve put together a few strategies to navigate various challenges, but please remember: Evolve Your Eating is a community. If you have solutions or strategies that have helped you navigate challenge, please share with the group!

At social gatherings

  • Do not attend social gatherings on an empty stomach! Fuel up ahead of time with good choices.
  • Keep some things within your control by bringing a healthy dish that can help fill your plate (and belly).
  • Make the best choices you can from what’s available. So maybe you skip the pizza and stick to the veggie platter and chicken wings.
  • Lighten up holiday cocktails. Go for a wine spritzer instead of a full glass of wine, or (gluten-free) vodka and soda with just a splash of cranberry juice. Also, space them out by drinking a glass of water in between. Tired of peer pressure? Go for soda water with a splash of cranberry and a lime. It’s festive . . .and it looks like a cocktail!

At home during the holidays

  • Try to keep your house as a “safe zone” by limiting temptations, since they abound elsewhere during the holiday season (i.e. at the office and social gatherings).
  • Find new recipes for your favorite dishes that don’t contain gluten and dairy. There are a ton out there! Do a Google search and add gluten-free and/or Paleo to your favorite recipe and I guarantee you’ll find some tasty options.
  • Take some of the focus off food for your holiday gatherings. Play games or engage in meaningful conversation, instead.
  • If you are hosting a gathering, plan a fun, healthy, new menu and share your recipes with others.
  • Have plenty of “to go” containers on hand so guests can leave with doggie bags. This will give treats a limited appearance at your house and the temptation will be gone after your event ends.

In the office during functions or the holiday season

  • Bring a healthy option to the holiday party and share the recipe.
  • Find alternative routes around desks and areas where treats usually appear. (This might apply year round. The sales reps at my last job were notorious for leaving donuts and cookies at the coffee station.)

The Hustle and Bustle (of life!)

  • Have extra snacks like nuts, veggies, hummus and fruit on-hand to grab on the way out the door.
  • If you will be eating on the run, research restaurants and menus ahead of time to find the best options available to keep you on-track. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions at restaurants in order to keep your meal as compliant as possible. Remember: they are there to serve you, so don’t feel awkward asking for what you need.
  • Missing gym time? Fit in some bodyweight exercises like pushups, squats, jump squats, kettlebell swings (if you know proper form) or even taking a few minutes here and there to walk and stretch your body. (Megan used to do squats and lunges after lunch in the empty conference room at her former job.)


To me, travel is all about the food! It’s a chance to try different dishes, spices, cooking techniques, and textures. I fully encourage you to sample the local cuisine wherever your visits take you. Traveling with friends and family is a special time and should be celebrated. At the same time, please keep a few things in mind.

  • Remember any sensitivities/allergies you know you have! For example, if you know that gluten gives you an upset stomach, maybe skip the beignets in New Orleans. I have no doubt they would be delicious, but do you really want to spend the rest of your trip with a stomach ache?
  • Again, do a little research. Check out restaurants and see what menu options you have. Even if everything isn’t perfectly on-plan, at least you’ll know that there are some decent options to choose from. Even do a search for gluten-free restaurants in the area you are going to, since this is becoming much more common in a lot of areas.
  • Let them know what you want/need. If you want to try the Southern BBQ (my mouth is watering) but think the cornbread might be an issue, ask them to hold it from your order.  
  • While this is nutrition related it is also a pet peeve of mine…stay away from fast food and franchise restaurants. While convenient and familiar, they all serve low quality, nutrient deficient food, so try to treat yourself better than that! As I said, travel is all about food for me, so I just don’t understand traveling hundreds or thousands of miles and then choosing to eat something you could have gotten in your hometown…try something new! 😉

You can approach this program as a 30-Day Challenge and you will see and feel good results. Those results will be short-lived if you just return to your old habits. My hope is that you will take this as an opportunity to learn about your relationship with food and move forward with new information and intent.

By going through this program and then making some small (or large) changes to your routine, you will reap benefits that last a lifetime!

All that being said, life gets in the way of even the best intentions. There will be parties, holidays and travel, but there is nothing stopping you from making better choices in those situations…even if those choices are not ideal. Do the best you can in the situation you are in. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Think about how you might do even better next time. A bad meal, day or week doesn’t mean you have “failed.” It just means you’ve gotten off-track. You can get back on track with your very next bite of food. No need to “start over.” Just go back to the (new) habits that you know work for you.

Another point I’d like to make – because it is an issue for so many people – is that it is always, Always, ALWAYS alright to politely say no to any food offered to you. I realize that many people take it personally if you refuse a treat from them, since it may be their way of showing love. I had this issue with a number of friends and family, including my grandmother. She couldn’t understand why I was refusing desserts I once gobbled up. I think she was a bit offended for awhile, but in the long run, I know she’s glad I am a happier, healthier person.

Your health outweighs just about any reason a person gives to back up their offer. “No thank you” is a complete sentence. Remember that!

What strategies have you tried? What suggestions do YOU have that you think others can benefit from?

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