Top 6 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating without Piling on the Pounds

Question: I’ve been training hard and have lost a few pounds since the summer season.  I don’t want to slow down my momentum.  Do you have any tips to avoid piling on “Holiday Pounds?”

Kelli’s Answer: Yes, here are my Top 6 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Pounds:

  1. The “Holidays” are really only a few days.  Enjoy food, friends, and family on these days, but do not allow it as an excuse to overeat for the entire 2-Month-Season.  It’s usually not the actual Holiday feasts that do the most damage.  It’s 2 months-worth of parties and cookies at the office.  Treat the non-Holiday days the way you would any other day…make good choices and only allow 1 small “treat” per day.
  2. During an actual Holiday meal, load on the vegetables.  Go out of your way to bring a vegetable dish.  Then, only take your favorites of the non-vegetable items.  If you think mashed potatoes are okay, but not something you really love, skip it.  Stick to what you really want.  If you feel like you have to take a specific item in order to be nice to the person who made it, keep the portion small.  And, to get more vegetables, use vegetables in place of traditional “starchy” dishes such as Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes or Roasted Butternut Squash in place of grains.
  3. Eat S-L-O-W.  Put your fork down in between bites. Enjoy the company.  Polish off a full glass of water before digging in for seconds.  Allow your body time to determine if you are still actually hungry.  You’ll feel awesome leaving the table comfortable, and not stuffed.
  4. Don’t waste a bunch of calories on sugary drinks like punch or cider.  Stick to water and unsweetened tea for the most part.  If you drink alcohol, drink a glass of water between beverages to cut down on your total.  Alcohol can actually be a “triple-threat!”  First, the drink itself contains calories – a lot of calories in the case of sugary alcoholic drinks.  Second, it usually makes people more relaxed about food choices, which leads to overeating calories.  Third, in the case of binge drinking, your body may not be able to metabolize fat for up to 72 hours while your liver is dealing with the alcohol…this means that all the work you do to “burn off” the calories from the Holidays during the days that follow has a reduced impact!  So, instead of drinking too much, enjoy just a glass or two of a non-sugary drink such as beer or wine.
  5. If you do over eat or indulge in too much sugar, try drinking cleansing smoothies for a day to get back on track (whole food and adequate nutrition – I recommend 3-4 servings per day).  Try The Original Green Detox Smoothie, Green Detox Smoothie #2, or the Junk Food Anti-Venom Smoothie.
  6. Lastly, be as active as possible!  Even in cold-weather states, it feels great to get outside and burn off some calories.  Get the whole family involved with some football, ultimate Frisbee, bike ride…do whatever…just get up and move!

If you’d like specific recipe ideas, see our Healthy Holiday Menu collection from last year.  I’ll also post a second annual Healthy Holiday Menu before Christmas 2012.  Enjoy!

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to