8 Nutritional Habits to Surviving the Holidays

8 Nutritional Habits to Surviving the Holidays


   The holidays can present something of a conundrum for the hard-working fitness devotees. This is the time of year where overeating is commonplace, if not expected.  You want to be able to relax, celebrate, and enjoy with family and friends, yet you don’t want to set yourself too far back when training resumes.  With so much food available, how does someone stay on track? 

   Now, my goal here isn’t to make you feel guilty, ashamed, anxious, or deprived about your nutrition.  Instead, I want you to be aware of your nutritional decision while enjoying the holidays. 

   Here are my 7 nutritional habits to surviving the Holiday season.  

1) Exercise prior.   

During the holidays, you’ll likely over-indulge and that’s totally fine.  To help offset stuffing your face, you should exercise prior.  It doesn’t need to be anything crazy.  For example, on Thanksgiving morning, go play some football at a local field or do a 5K Turkey Trot.  If it’s too cold to be outside, go to the gym and do a quick 15-20-minute HIIT workout.  You’ll feel better about stuffing yourself. 

2) Eat a High Protein Breakfast

Many people are tempted to “save” their calories for the big meal but this can cause you to over-indulge during the main meal.  Instead, start off the morning with a high protein breakfast with veggies, such as a Denver omelet or some Greek yogurt with some natural berries.

3) Watch your Beverage Consumption.    

If your holidays are like mine, there will be plenty of cocktails and whiskeys readily available.  Plan to have 1-2 drinks.  Clear liquors are usually lower in calories; however, you should avoid calorie filled cocktails.  Look to add club soda or diet soda into your cocktails to reduce caloric intake. Sip slowly and savor.  Once at the dinner table, drink plenty of water between bites. This will help you “feel fuller” soon.

4) Smaller Plates  

This one is so simple, it’s often overlooked.  We often allow our plate to dictate how much we eat. By using a smaller plate, you’ll reduce your portion sizes and cut down on calorie consumption.  This is a nifty psychology trick is known as the Delboeuf Illusion. 

5) Sample the Food. 

During the holidays, there will delicious foods available that you never tried before.  So, instead of completely avoiding it have a few bites. I do not like quantifying foods into either “good” or “bad” foods. The labeling of foods as either good or bad is often a misguided interpretation based on our own prejudices. If there’s a food you want to try, then have a few bites!  To quote Grank Achatz, Executive Chef of Alinea, “you can taste the first 3 bites.  After that, it’s eating.” 

6) Mindful Eating.  

 Are you paying attention to the food or are you simple inhaling it? Focus on enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each item. Put your fork down between bites and be conscious of your surroundings.  How’s the table conversation?  When was the last time you talked to Aunt May?  Take a few bites, then participate in the dinner conservation.  You’ll be more engaged in the conversation, and give your body to recognize when you’re full.

7) Think about What brings you Joy over the Holidays.  

As you are sitting around your family and friends, I want you to think about what you’re grateful for and what renews you.  What keeps you going day after day?  The holiday shouldn’t resolve around food or eating, but the company surrounding you. 

8) Be Realistic with Yourself.  

The holidays are the time of year where families get together to celebrate.  The chances are you will indulge in foods and drink and you know what?  That’s ok.  Diets are not deemed successful based on a singular meal or event. Be realistic with yourself.  Enjoy the meal, make good decisions, and get back on track the following day.    

You can always resume your nutrition tomorrow, and your family and friends are with you now, so enjoy the holidays. 


Holiday foods taste great and there’s nothing quite like spending quality time with friends and family. It’s not about making the “right” choice nor eliminating “bad” foods. Instead of stressing whether you just went over your carb limit, take a step back, breath and enjoy festivities.   

You can always resume your nutrition tomorrow, and your family and friends are with you now, so enjoy the holidays. 


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