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How to Help Your Clients Succeed Over the Holiday Season

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For most people, the holidays are a joyous time. There are family, friends, gifts, spirit, and those cringe-worthy Hallmark movies that still make you smile. There are light shows on 5th Avenue and miracles on 34th Street. The world seems to overflow with love as humans get the rare excuse to be kind toward each other. And Nat King Cole plays softly in the background as you sip peppermint tea.

For nutrition coaches, the holidays are different. Your clients typically struggle to follow the plan you decide on and can beat themselves up for months. It’s time to walk barefoot on shards of shattered glass. You’ve got to save the day.

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. Although the holidays for a nutrition coach can be a perilous time, you don’t have to “Die Hard” or be “Home Alone” from Thanksgiving until New Year’s. Using a few strategies, you can help your clients continue to make progress rather than beat themselves up, and maintain your sanity.

In a perfect world, clients log everything they consume. They’re keeping their heads during all the dinners, bringing a scale to Grandma’s, avoiding alcohol, and enjoying a heap of stress-free family time. The quantity of food they consume doesn’t change. Chicken breast turns into turkey breast and you just swap out the rice for mashed sweet potatoes. They know the recipe for Aunt Jane’s famous cookies and track them when they’re consumed. Macros are nailed with immaculate precision and your client makes progress! They’re robotic, unemotional, and pristine.

Only 1 percent of clients will be able to execute the holidays like that. For everyone else, it’s about mitigating the damage and living to fight another day. It’s about living in the gray area on the black and white spectrum. How can they keep moving forward, or at the very least hold steady? The average person gains 1–5 pounds over the holiday season. How can you give them a step up on the resolutioners come January 1st? Give your clients these tips:

  1. Make breakfast and lunch high protein, low carb, low fat and high fiber. The holidays are won during the meals that aren’t “special.” They are won during that Snickerdoodle protein shake you consume to make up your protein as you get your kids ready for Santa. It’s the boring egg white omelet or chicken salad you have before you head to your sister-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving. Use breakfast, lunch and your snacks to limit carbs and fat and stock up on protein and fiber. Understand what a holiday meal contains and what it does not contain and work around it. If you can stay tight in the hours leading up to the special meal, you’ll award yourself more freedom when the green bean casserole comes out.

  2. Limit alcohol consumption and pre-log it. Most people drink more during the holiday season. The more social we are, the more booze is available. A good coach will help their client understand that if nothing else, moderating alcohol consumption can be the difference between maintaining or reversing progress. Using the WAG Alcohol Calculator, we know that a single drink is at least 25 grams of carbs or 11 grams of fat. It adds up! The best strategy is to have your client predetermine what kind of drink and how much of that drink they will have, log it first thing in the morning, and work around it. Keep the amount low. We don’t want cognitive decline because any good plan goes out the window when you’ve got a strong buzz. For me, it’s a two-drink maximum. I know it’s going to cost me 50–60 grams of carbs, and I just work around it.

  3. Understand which foods are—and aren’t—unique to the holidays. Find a way to fit those unique foods into your macros. We all know there are foods that you can only get during the holiday season. Pumpkin pie is a great example. Your Aunt Barbara’s cheesy potatoes. Uncle Tim’s famous Christmas chocolate chip cookies. Allow your clients to enjoy those in moderation. There is something about experiencing those types of special foods with loved ones that heighten the holiday spirit. Do you know what’s not unique to the holidays? Oreos, Bud Light, potato chips. If you can help your client get that the holidays aren’t an excuse to overeat junk they can get any time in the grocery store, they will have their best holiday season yet!

  4. Avoid guilt. We all mess up. Things don’t always go to plan. We spend time developing an intricate plan of action and all it takes is one wrinkle before that all goes out the window. Even plan B can be shot out of the sky! There must be a plan C. There must be a plan D. You must not let the failure of one plan prevent you from moving to your contingency. I get it. None of this is easy. Clients will execute these tips with varying degrees of success. The successful are not those who never wander off the beaten path—everyone has their moments—but those who analyze their shortcomings without guilt, and snap back to their routines quickly. They are the ones who experience consistent, long-term nutritional success.


If you can get your clients to use ANY of these tips with ANY degree of consistency, they will have their most successful holiday nutrition to date. You can reward them with a gift greater than anything from any Sharper Image: the knowledge and power to enjoy a holiday season without compromising their health and wellness goals!

For more holiday tips, be sure to read our annual holiday guide, or better yet, send the link to your clients. It’s filled with tons of recipes and additional strategies to help them conquer their holidays.

If you enjoyed these tips, consider investing in the WAG Nutrition Coach Certification. Through this certification, you’ll have extensive practice with more difficult client scenarios, where you’ll receive our best practices and strategies for dealing with them, plus feedback on your responses from one of our WAG coaches. You’ll also gain access to our private coaching community, where you can always ask for advice from fellow coach certification graduates and WAG coaches, in case something unique comes up with a client.

You’ll become an expert in nutrition science—and a master teacher capable of using your knowledge to help your clients get results.

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Posted by Michael Vanchieri
Michael is a coach and blog writer for WAG. He also owns and operates a joint health practice in New York City. His passion is providing people with the mental and physical tools to live their lives to the highest degree of freedom possible.

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