Sticking to a nutrition plan can be difficult during the holiday season. It is tempting to celebrate the holidays with an abundance of food; and then we end up feeling bad (physically and mentally) about it in January when life returns to normal.

In order to stave off the temptations, consider the following tips:

Celebrate with fun, not food! Put your effort into activities and getting together with friends and family in ways other than restaurants, brunches, and cookie exhanges. Plan a holiday hike or walk through the town park. Go to a concert or play, look for celebrations of lights in your town. You go to family gatherings, work parties, and other social events to see your friends and loved ones—so see them! When we are not focusing on food, we are not being tempted to eat foods that are not good for our nutrition plan.

  • Include lots of seasonal, colorful organic fruits and vegetables. Do you decorate for the holidays with a lot of color? Treat your plate the same way. Fruits and vegetables will add flavor, color and nutrients to holiday favorites. And they help you feel fuller longer so you can avoid the temptation to overeat.
  • Be polite but firm. If you are being pressured into eating foods at the holiday meals that go against your plan, try this tactic: offer a complement to the cook/host and explain how “stuffed you are!” If they still insist, you can ask to bring the treat home in a bag.
  • Don’t forget to get your rest and your hydration. Weariness and dehydration from traveling can lead to temptations you may regret the next day!
  • Watch out for “Sneaky Sugars.” (credit: Michael Wood, C.S.S.S) Sure, you know that pumpkin pie with whipped cream, or chocolate lava cake are sugar bombs, but the sweet stuff hides in innocuous places like sauces, seasonings, and processed foods. Eliminate the barbeque dipping sauce or packaged crackers and gravitate towards the hummous dip and veggies.
  • Don’t fast before the meal. Saving up your appetite for a big meal later in the day can backfire. Low blood sugar from hunger increases cortisol levels, which leads to cravings for sugary foods. Instead of saving up for the big meal, eat a meal before going to the event. Good “pre-event” food would include baked chicken drumsticks with butter, ghee, hot sauce, and sea salt. Or some soup made with bone broth (or even just the bone broth). Some kind of meat protein and fat will satisfy your gut and fill you up for a longer time. You will be less likely to pick at the sugary “health breakers.”
  • Fermented is fizzy! A fresh bottle of pomegranate kombucha can provide the festive fizziness of champagne or other carbonated drinks, with the added benefit of helping your gut health.