Surviving the Holidays: A Nutritional Guide


Did you know that the average weight gain for each American just between Thanksgiving and Christmas is 7-10 pounds? There is no doubt that this can be attributed to the fact that the average Thanksgiving Dinner contains 3,000 to 4,000 calories and over 200 grams of fat and that the traditional Egg Nog holiday staple has about 350 calories, almost 20 grams of fat, and over 20 grams of sugar in just one 8-ounce glass.

Now is the time to determine what it is about the season that makes it so special to you and your family. Become conscious of what are the most important parts of the season, and let them shine when they happen!


Tips for Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Tip One : Plan ahead. Plan what your pre-meal eating is going to look like. Plan what your meal is going to consist of. What are the pieces that you cannot live without? Which dishes are the ones you can skimp on, or which ones can you make a lighter version of? What treat completes your holidays? Can you handle having one small portion of that special treat, would you rather make a lighter version and possibly have a bit more? Build a plate that is one half vegetables, one quarter carbohydrates, and one quarter protein.
  • Tip Two : Schedule a walk sometime throughout the day, maybe two walks. Encourage and recruit others who are at your holiday meal to join you.
  • Tip Three : Do not give yourself permission to "go all out" because it is "only one day." There are inevitably always some leftovers. And there are several more days coming up in this season that will also tax your health if you cut too loose. Make sure to sit and enjoy your meal, chew completely, and wait at least 20 minutes before getting a second plate. With that being said, do not punish yourself if you feel like you overdid it at the meal. Just become aware of that and take the steeps provided here to move forward. 
  • Tip Four : A few basic meal requirements: a) do not sugar coat (literally) your vegetables, b) pick 1 starch or 1/2 serving of 2 different starches and stick to those, c) fill up on fiber d)be conscious of additions to certain dishes (butter, bacon, cheese, etc.).

Holiday Party Preparation

The Week Before Your Party

  • Ask the host if you can bring a dish. If so, choose one of the lighter versions.
  • Plan to perform an hour long workout during the day before the party (or after the party if it is earlier in the day).
  • Keep your carbohydrate consumption towards complex carbohydrates (such as vegetables, whole grains, and beans) 1/2 a cup or so per meal the whole week before the party.

The Day of the Party

  • Do your workout. It will be much easier to do it before, but you may find that planning to do it after the party will keep you focuses and help you to make good decisions as you are aware that you will have to exercise later.
  • Plan your plate. One-half of your plate should be vegetables, non-starchy if possible. This can be something you bring so you know that it is there for you. One-quarter of your plate should be protein, hopefully, one not doused in butter. One-quarter of your plate should be carbohydrates. Please be conscious of the type that you are picking too!

How to Recover the Day After the Party

  • Drink plenty of water. At least 60-100 ounces. 
  • Get active at the first chance you have in the morning. A nice intensity workout will do wonders.
  • Go back to a complex carb diet for the day and stay strictly away from sugars as your balance is already off.
  • Your meals should again be 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 complex carbohydrates.
  • Drink herbal teas, such as turmeric and ginger, to combat for inflammation caused by your party meal.

The Week After the Party

  • Stick to a similar plan as the week before the party: low carbs, high veggie, and a moderate to high protein intake.
  • Make sure to stay way from processed sugars, especially if you had your fair share during the party. It is an easy downward spiral once blood sugar is dis-regulated!
  • Remain active at least 30 minutes each day, even if it is walking or light stretching. Find a friend who will keep you accountable. 
  • Make sure your sleep is adequate during the week, especially if you are missing hours on the weekends.


Request your own personalized nutrition plan


Activities During the Holidays

  • Establish a challenge that will keep you going from Thanksgiving until New Years.
  • If you are traveling, plan ahead and find locations you can either go for an outdoor walk or hike, find a gym where you can lift or do a group class, or plan to bring small pieces of equipment (bands, hand weights, etc). 
  • Keep the family engaged. play games outside or find local family activities.
  • Just keep moving. Find 30 minutes everyday (can be broken up) and do some type of movement. This could include laying on the floor and doing small exercises while watching a movie. 

Quick Workout Ideas

  • Take as many opportunities as you can to walk outside when the weather is decent. Even a 10 minute walk can change your mental state and help keep you committed to staying healthy.
  • Do a few flowing yoga movements upon waking in the morning to set the intentions for the day.
  • Every movement you take through the day can be made into exercise. Climbing the stairs two at a time, focusing on engaging your glutes, doing push ups on your kitchen counter while making a meal, or even playing on the floor with your kids or dog and doing slide planks. Get creative!
  • Tabata: 20 seconds activity, 10 seconds rest, 4 minutes total.
  • HIIT: 45 seconds of activity with 15 seconds of rest. 2-3 rounds. 
    • Jump squats
    • Planking shoulder tap
    • Split squat jump
    • Crab toe touch
    • Planking hip drops
    • Lateral hop burpee
    • Kettlebell Swings
    • Wall ball

Holiday Party Week Template

Wednesday Before the Party

  • Ask host if it is okay for you to bring a dish.
  • Choose a healthier dish and make your shopping list. 
  • Keep your meals this week to one-quarter plate of complex carbs, one-quarter plate of protein, and one-half vegetables.
  • Perform 30-60 minutes of activity daily.

Thursday and Friday

  • Keep your meals the same and stay active.
  • Make the dish you have chosen to bring to the party, knowing this will help you stay accountable and focused.
  • Check the local class schedule or plan what type of activity you will do tomorrow, whether it be before or after the party.
  • Tell a friend what activity you are doing so you cannot back out, and ask them to join you.

Day of the Party (Saturday or Sunday)

  • Wake up & have a balanced breakfast, with less or no carbohydrates.
  • Start getting hydrated and keep sipping water all day.
  • Get moving and have a post-workout snack.
  • Depending on the time of the party, have a balanced lunch, again with minimal to no carbohydrates.
  • Get to the party and assess the situation. What are the foods you can live without, which ones do you need to have?
  • Plan ahead on what snacks you are okay with having that won't be a trigger for automatic food binging.
  • Stick to proper nutrition sizes.
  • Know which food you are allowing yourself to have and, again, stick to portion sizes, but make sure to allow yourself to enjoy that specific food.
  • Only allow for 1-2 treats. Remember, there are more parties, and the holidays is a six-week event.

Sunday/Monday (The Day After the Party)

  • Drink lots of water!
  • Drink turmeric tea or some other anti-inflammatory herbal tea
  • Focus on vegetables and protein
  • Don't punish yourself by depriving yourself of all food. Just make sure it is quality food.
  • Move! Get moving as soon as you wake up. Although you may not feel like it, movement can set you up for a quicker recovery. Move as much as you can throughout the day
  • Throw away (if you are hosting) any leftovers that might be tempting, or give them away if you cannot fathom throwing them away.