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Stay On Track and Eat Your Holiday Cake, Too

November 16, 2020

The holiday season is here yet again. And while we look forward to all those delicious holiday goodies, the threat of thwarting our most diligent efforts to eat a balanced and healthy diet is always looming. 

Yeah, yeah, we know, there’s more to life than just a healthy diet. But doesn’t it seem like there’s got to be a better way to balance things out during the holiday season? Is it possible to eat that apple pie and not derail your diet? 

Heck ya, fam. Here are some tips on how to stay on track and eat that holiday cake too.


Portion, portion, portion

Let’s say it together: indulging is perfectly ok during the holiday season. Years from now, odds are good that you probably won’t even remember exactly what you did (or didn’t) eat during the holidays. And at the end of the day, occasionally indulging in healthy portions of your favorite “cheat” foods isn’t going to lead to derailing your diet or fitness regimen.


Oh, and here’s a thought – how about we stop calling them cheat foods altogether, eh? Because honestly, life’s too short not to enjoy all of those yummy, sometimes not-so-healthy foods. We’re not advocating for going overboard here. And maybe this is a different discussion for another time (i.e. self-love and the larger discussion around diet obsession).

So don’t feel guilty about eating healthy portions of your favorite holiday foods. At the end of the day, a healthy lifestyle is a sustainable one and not allowing yourself to indulge once in a while isn’t sustainable.


Balancing Act

If you want those mashed potatoes (gravy, included), go on and get some. Plan on grabbing some oh-so-delicious carb filled, warm bread? The key is to balance it out. When you’re filling up your plate, grab the bread – and some healthier options. Salad, fresh veggies, and (some versions) of sweet potatoes can help balance out your plate. You can also help balance things out by sticking to water instead of sugary sodas or holiday drinks, like ciders or egg nogs. 


The fun thing about balance is that it should be a two-pronged approach. You don’t just need to nutritionally balance your holidays, you can also help balance things out by modifying your activity levels. 

For example, if you know you’re going to be indulging more than usual, you can plan to increase your overall activity to help offset the temporary changes in your diet. We’re not talking about committing to an extra hour or two every day in the gym. You shouldn’t be killing yourself just so you can consume your favorite holiday foods. It can be as simple as increasing your daily step total. Or, maybe instead of sitting around the TV watching the game, you go for a walk after your holiday meal to help use up some of that delicious energy you just consumed. Don’t worry if you’re struggling to find motivation after indulging. That’s normal and there are plenty of ways to find that motivation you need to get moving again.


Manage Your Appetite

Wanna know a secret? Hitting the holiday smorgasbord with an empty stomach isn’t gonna do you any good.  Don’t starve yourself in an effort to save all your “daily calories” for your special holiday meals. Doing that will almost guarantee that you’ll end up overindulging and derailing your diet. Plus, you’ll probably feel like Augustus Gloop afterwards.


To avoid the dreaded over-indulgence, it’s better to opt for small, healthy snacks full of protein and fiber before you roll up to the holiday dinner table. Think little bites like nuts, popcorn, or even some avocado toast. Fiber and protein will help you feel not so ravenous when you hit the holiday buffet. It’s kinda like going to the grocery store hungry – just don’t do it.


Just Say “No” – to Deprivation

It can be far too easy to get caught up in the cycle of guilt and deprivation when it comes to food. It’s not worth it. Depriving yourself of enjoying comfort foods during the holidays doesn’t make you any healthier. We’d argue that it’s just the opposite. While it might seem like opting out of indulging will help you reach those goals faster, it doesn’t help create the kind of healthy, sustainable lifestyle you need to perform at your best.

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Because eventually (yes, eventually), you’ll cave in. Deprivation can only last for so long and we are, after all, not superhumans. It’s just not realistic to expect yourself to not indulge. And it definitely doesn’t foster a healthy relationship with food. 


The holiday season can be stressful. Not only are you stressing about what gifts to get everyone, you’re probably focused on not derailing your diet. Being surrounded by indulgent holiday foods is enough to make your mouth water. But with these tips, you can find that healthy balance and enjoy your favorite holiday treats all while staying on track.


Taryn W


Taryn Willis is an avid fitness junkie. Born and raised in Indiana, she grew up playing sports and continues to this day. When she’s not spoiling her three furbabies, she’s busy kickboxing, running, doing some deep downward dog yoga, or playing intramural soccer. A creative mastermind and wordsmith by nature, she graduated from Indiana University in 2020 with a degree in Communication Studies. She currently writes for several publications as a freelance blogger and copywriter.