Edited by: Michelle Macdonald
The holidays already come with enough stress built into them! Fretting over what you should and shouldn’t place on your dinner plate at gatherings shouldn’t be adding to your worries. With adequate planning, healthy holiday eating will be a breeze and set you up for tackling any disruptions to your routine in the future!
We’re bringing you 10 healthy holiday eating tips you can start using today and keep using them for future social engagements and celebrations! Before you know it you’ll be an expert at eyeballing portions, rearranging macros for the day, and ‘guesstimating’ how your meal adds up so making changes to your meal plans won’t ruffle your feathers. These tips will allow you to take on healthy holiday eating with minimal stress and be fully prepared for success.
10 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
1. Determine the calories for the day.
While many approach the holidays as a time to indulge, it can actually be an excellent opportunity to learn how to navigate higher-calorie meals within your overall lifestyle. After all, social eating and unplanned meals are a reality beyond the holidays, and mastering them is crucial for long-term success. Your first step is to consider your preference for your holiday meal: roast beef, turkey, or perhaps a decadent dessert? When making this choice, keep in mind your body type and its needs. For instance, someone with a higher body fat percentage may benefit from a more conservative, high-protein/high-fat option like roast beef and Brussels sprouts. Conversely, lean body types (ectomorphs) might want to plan a carb-heavy meal and keep the fats lower. Think of turkey breast, gravy, roasted squash, green beans, a dinner roll, and baby potatoes with some sea salt and lightly dressed with olive oil!
Bonus tip: Separate dinner from dessert with a post-prandial walk, which is great for socialization, and meaningful conversations with dear friends or family members. Walking is very well-known to improve blood sugar. Just 30 minutes will do!
Key Takeaway: The holidays can be a valuable opportunity to learn how to manage high-calorie meals within your regular lifestyle, as social eating and unplanned meals are inevitable.
2. Try to stick to your total calorie goal for the day.
If you can, take some time to research the dishes that will be served and estimate their macronutrient content. Then, use a food tracking app like @mymacros to plug in the food items and their macros to get a better understanding of your overall intake. This will help you make informed choices and avoid overindulging.
Bonus Tip: Take charge of healthy holiday eating by hosting the meal. You can get recipe ideas inside our MacroMastery Cookbook!
Key Takeaway: Make informed food choices and avoid overindulging during the holidays.
3. Limit total holiday meal calories to no more than double the average meal on your current plan.
Holiday feasts can be a delightful detour without derailing your healthy holiday eating journey. Here’s how to indulge strategically:
- Cap your holiday meal calories: Aim for up to double your usual meal size. Leaner individuals (10% body fat or less) can go up to triple (1080 kcal on an 1800 kcal diet). For those with more fat to lose, stick to 1.5 times usual (540 kcal on an 1800 kcal diet).
- Adjust for frequency: If you’re attending multiple gatherings, choose the more conservative range. For one special dinner, be flexible.
Science backs it: Your body can handle a single splurge without jeopardizing progress. So, savor the holiday spirit, guilt-free!
Key Takeaway: You can enjoy the holidays while maintaining your progress by being mindful of your calorie intake and adjusting it based on the frequency of celebrations.
4. Once you have a general idea of what you’ll be indulging in for your holiday meal, prioritize tracking that meal first in MyMacros+.
Make your special meals fit your healthy holiday eating plan!
- Track your indulgences: Before filling your plate, prioritize logging your holiday meal in MyMacros+. Adjust portions or swap ingredients to match your predetermined calorie limit for the day.
- Balance your plate: Once you’ve accounted for your special meal, fill your remaining meals with balanced macros. Don’t sweat exceeding a specific macro during your holiday treat – as long as your other meals stay consistent, you’re on track.
- Find your sweet spot: If five meals feel overwhelming, simplify to four. This flexibility lets you adjust to your appetite, energy levels, and holiday schedule.
Key Takeaway: Prioritize tracking your holiday meal first in MyMacros+ to stay on track with your healthy eating plan, while still enjoying special treats.
5. Adjust your fitness routine if you need to.
Adjust your fitness routine if you need to. The holidays are a glorious time for celebration, connection, and creating lasting memories with loved ones. But amidst the delicious feasts and hectic schedules, maintaining your fitness routine might feel challenging.
Fear not! You can strike a happy balance between holiday indulgence and staying on track in your training.
- Shift your workout schedule: Train or do cardio on a different day than your big holiday meal. This gives your body time to recover and prevents overeating.
- Fuel up for a post-feast workout: Feeling energetic? A big training session the day after a big meal can be fantastic! Your muscle glycogen stores will be full, fueling your workout and boosting your mood.
- Embrace active holiday traditions: Take a post-dinner walk with your family, organize a friendly game of tag in the park, or enjoy a pre-gathering yoga session. These activities keep you moving while adding to the holiday cheer.
- Stay in motion: Being active during the holidays benefits both your physical and mental health. Exercise reduces stress, improves sleep, and boosts your mood. Plus, it helps you avoid emotional eating.
- Embrace the joy of movement: When you focus on enjoying the activity itself, you’re less likely to view it as a chore. So, put on some festive music, dance with your loved ones, or simply revel in the crisp winter air while walking.
The holidays are a time to celebrate life in all its fullness. By adjusting your fitness routine with a mindful and joyful approach, you can savor the season’s delights while staying on track toward your goals.
Key Takeaway: You can enjoy the holidays and maintain your fitness routine. Balance is key.
6. Hold on to healthy habits.
Amidst the festive merriment, it’s easy to neglect your regular self-care routines. By prioritizing these simple habits alongside planning for holiday meals, you can navigate the season with grace and stay connected to your health goals.
- Hydrate on schedule: Water keeps your energy flowing and helps you make mindful choices. Aim for your usual daily intake, even if it feels like more than usual with all the festivities.
- Nourish your body: Don’t skip meals leading up to the feast. Choose healthy, balanced options to avoid overeating later.
- Supplement your well-being: Don’t forget your daily vitamins and minerals! They offer extra support during a time when certain nutritional needs might not be met.
- Connect with your center: Prioritize your morning meditation or preferred self-care ritual. Grounding yourself in mindfulness helps you approach indulgences with awareness and appreciation.
- Rest and recharge: Prioritize sleep and relaxation. Your body needs time to process the extra calories and recover from the excitement.
- Celebrate your choices: Remember, you created this healthy lifestyle for a reason! Acknowledge your commitment and enjoy the benefits, like increased energy and improved well-being.
Key Takeaway: Maintain your regular healthy habits alongside enjoying festive meals to navigate the season with grace and stay connected to your health goals.
7. As a general tip, fill your plate with a good portion of protein and lots of vegetables! This will help keep satiety high.
Remember to listen to your body. Don’t force down another bite if you’re full. Savor what you’ve enjoyed and gently move on.
8. Enjoy the day!
Stress and anxiety about food can take away from the magic of the season.
Here’s your stress-free guide to healthy holiday eating:
Embrace the spirit, not the guilt: Enjoy the company of loved ones and let go of perfectionism around food. It’s okay to have a little extra!
Mindful indulgence: If a dish is richer than expected, don’t sweat it. Savor smaller portions, appreciate the flavors, and listen to your body’s fullness cues.
Fat’s a friend: Fat fills you up, so a smaller portion of a fatty dish can be just as satisfying. Don’t fear it – enjoy a taste of what you love!
Stress eats you, not the other way around: Remember, stress can lead to overeating. Relax, take a deep breath, and let the spirit of the season bring you fulfillment.
Focus on the bigger picture: Aim for consistent healthy habits most of the time. We want progress, not perfection.
Key Takeaway: Enjoy the holiday season and prioritize your well-being over stressing about food.
9. Always remember that one meal won’t outdo all your work for the week. Plan it out and enjoy it, guilt-free.
We’re here to equip you with a flexible, sustainable approach you can confidently apply anytime, anywhere.
No need for stress or anxiety! Social gatherings and unfamiliar food shouldn’t be a source of worry. Ditch the “yo-yo dieting” traps and embrace mindful, strategic eating to truly savor the season without sacrificing your goals.
Perfection isn’t the goal. The Wonder Women way is about consistent progress. Embrace occasional indulgences, learn from them, and move forward with confidence. You’re on your way to becoming a master of mindful nutrition, making healthy, stress-free choices not just during the holidays, but every day.
Here’s your holiday mantra:
Enjoy: Savor the festivities and indulge in moderation. Listen to your body and stop when you’re comfortably full.
Learn: Reflect on your choices, understand what worked and what didn’t, and adjust accordingly.
Move on: Don’t let one meal define your progress. Get back on track with your healthy habits and keep moving towards your goals.
Key Takeaway: Enjoy, Learn, Move On. One meal doesn’t negate all your hard work.
10. Finally, here are a few simple rules of eating etiquette that we highly recommend you adopt:
- Always have a glass of water with you as you eat. Sparkling water is great as it can help keep you full.
- Always put your knife and fork (or spoon) down between bites.
- Make sure you chew your food, swallow it, and take a sip of water before picking up your eating utensils again. You’d be surprised at how much more present you become at dinner.
- Maintain good posture, breathe deeply, and make eye contact with everybody. The whole point of holiday meals is to be social and enjoy the time with your loved ones, so be social. The food isn’t about to run away!
- Eat mindfully! In today’s fast-paced world full of stress and distraction, eating has often been reduced to a mindless event of rapid ingestion, overeating, and regret. Mindful eating, on the contrary, is a form of meditation. It involves:
- Eating slowly and without distraction
- Listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full
- Distinguishing between true hunger and non-hunger triggers
- Engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors
- Learning to cope with guilt and anxiety about food
- Eating to maintain overall health and well-being
- Noticing the effects food has on your feelings and figure
- Appreciating your food
Key Takeaway: Be present and mindful while eating during the holidays.