How to Stay Fit while Enjoying Food and Feasts this Holiday Season – tips and tricks that actually work

With the holidays here, many of us are thankful for family, friends, and the chance to stay safe while enjoying each other’s company.

And of course, the great food, meals, treats, and desserts. 

If you’re on a healthy lifestyle, however, those delectable meals and desserts may seem daunting.

A holiday feast with various dishes, such as steak, potatoes, bread, dessert, all lined up on a table.
A feats for the eyes too – Photo by Jed Owen

However, there’s a way to enjoy the food you love this holiday season without ruining your fitness routine.

You can enjoy the meals and treats while still staying on track to your goals, with these tips and tricks.

Keep reading to learn how it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too.

Try an 80/20 Approach

A healthier way to look at your overall diet and meals is with the 80/20 rule.

This means you eat healthy 80% of the time, and indulge or treat yourself 20% of the time.

If you are eating well more often than not, you will still have incredible health benefits and experience an increase in fitness.

For example, love pizza. I could honestly eat it daily.

I can usually satisfy cravings with a healthy cauliflower crust alternative.

If I’m going to a party or gathering, I’ll reach for that slice of domino’s with no regrets. 

Include Fiber and Protein

Along with all your favorites at a holiday meal, each for that fiber and protein too!

Fiber, especially that found in vegetables, can help fill you up, making you satisfied and full faster.

Protein can also help you feel full and satisfied.

These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, adding to the benefits provided!

Eating fiber and protein with your meal can be a great way to keep portions in check when you reach for more indulgent treats or desserts!

Pick Your Favorites

Banning all desserts may cause binging when it comes down to it. This is too restrictive.

On the other hand, if you give yourself no limit, you may just clear out a pie by yourself!

Instead of banning all desserts, give yourself leeway to choose your favorites.

If you’re not a fan of pumpkin pie, say no to that slice and grab that apple pie instead.

Let yourself enjoy your favorite holiday treats without overeating everything or banning them all together.

This allows you to fully enjoy the experience of eating something you love without worrying.

When you do this, psychologically you are more grateful for the food and savor it more.

It almost becomes a lesson in mindful eating!

Portion Control

It’s OK to eat until we’re full; the problem happens when we overeat to the point of feeling ill.

That’s where meal management and portion control come in.

Portion control is an important part of managing our health, ensuring we don’t overeat.

Take note of serving sizes (it’s usually less than you think), but remember every BODY is different!

Someone that’s six inches taller than you may need more.

Someone that works out less than you may need less.

Staying mindful of food and keeping track of what you eat can help you consume food more mindfully this holiday season!

So remember: portion control, portion control, portion control.

It needs to be said three times to really sink in for me (was no one going to tell past me 2 cups of rice is not the right portion size?)

Don’t Starve Yourself 

If you want to, for example, not eat the day before a big holiday feast, you might want to rethink that strategy.

Going hungry before a meal can lead to overeating, stuffing yourself until you’re extremely full.

This can actually cause you to consume more calories in the long run.

You can opt for a light meal during the day, so you are not ravenous by the time the holiday feast comes up.

Try some high-fiber, nutritious vegetables before a holiday party!

If it’s right for you, try an intermittent fast approach to mealtimes, where you consume food in a specific time window (for example 8 hours of eating, 16 hours fasting).

Again, fasting is not right for everyone; learn more about the types, the benefits, and the risks, here.

Happy meals, happy homes – Photo by Nicole Michalou

Think Positive

Food is not just nutrition, it’s not just fuel for the body.

Food is a celebration of your roots, of your memories, of you!

So remember that instead of any guilt in indulging. There will always be tomorrow for health, today is about a celebration.

Additionally, instead of thinking about things to avoid, think about things you want to add.

Add extra veggies, good protein, and filling fiber.

Have your favorite treats already in your meal plan, no need to avoid all desserts!

Most importantly, enjoy the food, the feast, and the company.

The Takeaway

When we take an 80/20 percent approach to health, we feel less pressure to stick to a certain meal plan.

Knowing that eating healthy most of the time already adds great benefits to overall wellbeing.

Most importantly, try not to limit yourself for the rest of the year.

When we heavily restrict our food, we tend to binge eat it at the earliest opportunity.

In many cases, we can satisfy our cravings with healthy alternatives.


If you want pizza? Eat a slice, save the rest for another day! When we know we have the option to enjoy something, we are less likely to overeat and binge.

It’s all about portions, self-control, and respecting the body.

We want to feel good in our skin.

Eat a healthy diet the majority of the time, exercise regularly and enjoy treats.

Try to avoid excess sugar, or at least limit it.

This, along with taking care of our sleep schedule and gut health, allows us to thrive.

Remember, health starts from within!

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