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Beat the Bulge and Enjoy Holiday Foods, Guilt-Free!

Healthy Holiday Foods
Beat the Bulge and Enjoy Holiday Foods, Guilt-Free!

Here’s to a New Year, and a New YOU! 2023 is just around the corner.

Happy December! That time of year when nonstop holiday parties and special events encourage us to indulge a bit more. Holiday foods we get to enjoy only once a year are now available, the drinks are flowing like a river, and seasonal treats are just too tempting to resist!

If you’ve been on a fitness regimen, you may be greeting the holidays with a combination of joy and dread. Of course, we should enjoy the festivities and all the special foods that go along with them. It’s inevitable to expect to put on a few extra pounds during the season.

Why do I say that?

Because I’m a realistic coach and I know that ’tis the season to indulge. We all overdo it during the holidays. You know it. I know it. We want to party with our friends and family, and that usually includes sharing more sugar and spice and everything nice than we normally do.

Is gaining weight over the holidays inevitable? Yes and no.

You can have your eggnog and drink it too by following the 80/20 rule. In case you haven’t heard of it, the 80/20 rule is your best friend when it comes to indulging in the foods you love! It means that 80 percent of the time we continue to eat a healthy diet full of fruits, veggies, proteins, carbs, and good quality fats, but the remaining 20 percent of the time we can indulge in food and drink that’s a little lower on the health spectrum.

Why is this an effective plan? Think about it.

Holiday Season
Holiday Craft


You’re doing exactly what you want, which are:

  • Enjoying special foods made by beloved family and friends
  • Eating seasonal foods that bring back great memories
  • Satisfying your craving for foods you don’t get to enjoy but once a year

Let me be clear. Typical junk food is not holiday food. You can get it any time of year, and chances are you have already cut it out of your healthy meal plans and don’t miss it (much).

But enjoy that piece of chocolate fudge; that ladle of rich gravy over your mashed potatoes; that special holiday cocktail. And don’t feel guilty about it!


Stay on track by moderating your intake of holiday foods. So, out of 21 meals a week, aim to “eat clean” at 17 of them. Then allow some indulgence in the other four.

You can also try these healthier holiday swaps that are still super delicious:

  • Replace up to half the butter or oil in cakes and cookies with unsweetened applesauce to reduce fat and calories.
  • Mix up your mashed potatoes by replacing an equal amount of potatoes with cauliflower. Cook and season as usual.
  • Double the vegetables in your soups and stuffing. Few will notice that they’re getting a vitamin boost with an extra onion, carrot, or stalk of celery in place of one-half to a full cup of starches like rice, bread or noodles.
  • Use Greek yoghurt instead of sour cream in dip recipes for a lower-fat alternative.
  • Use smaller plates to make it look as if you’re getting more than you really are. Just don’t go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. That defeats the purpose!

There’s always that one recipe that has to be made, “the way Granny used to make it,” with full-fat cream or bacon grease or three cups of sugar. Never fear; this is what the 80/20 rule is for.

That way you don’t have to skip Granny’s super fudge brownies or Uncle Doug’s loaded baked potato soup. Feel free to enjoy a small portion and eat slowly to savour every bite.

Five Tips for Staying Healthy this Holiday Season
  1. Stay active

Get moving early before you do anything else! Knowing that you got your workout in allows you to burn calories early and boosts your metabolism throughout the day. A regular workout schedule keeps your body burning calories efficiently. Feeling good makes it much less likely that you will binge-eat a tin of holiday cookies!

  1. Eat your veggies 

You can never, ever have too many non-starchy veggies! When making soups, salads, and casseroles, add extra onion, carrot, or cauliflower. At the holiday party, enjoy a half-portion of the higher calorie foods and double portions of your favourite vegetable instead of loading up on the fat-laden foods that go straight to the waist.

  1. Plan for extra calories

Just as you budget your money, you can budget your calories. When you want to save up for a nice vacation, you set aside money each week. When you know you’re going to a party where your friend is serving her famous creme brûlée, you can cut back on calories earlier in the week so that you can “afford” to eat a piece or three. Make sure to fill up on a low-cal, high-protein salad for a few nights and eat lighter on party day, to put your body into a slight calorie deficit leading up to your treats.

  1. Don’t drink your calories

Okay I know I’m asking a lot here, but just consider cutting back. Sip slowly and have water between drinks. For a non-alcoholic beverage, try flavoured sparkling water or plain sparkling water with a splash of juice. Dry red wine, vodka soda lime, or rum and diet sodas are your best bets for a low-cal, low-sugar drink.

Don't Drink Calories - holiday foods
Flavoured Sparkling Water
  1. Focus on people

Holidays are about family and friends…right? Instead of scarfing down food and too much of it, then stop focusing on food! When you go to a party, there is no need to hang out by the food table when there are people all around you to talk to! Grab a small plate and stand away from the food table while you socialise. Standing burns more calories than sitting. Plus, the challenge of balancing both a plate and drink while you chat will make you think twice about overindulging.

I hope these tips help you during this festive season! Ultimately, the holidays are all about connecting and spending time with your loved ones. Do that and enjoy without putting too much pressure on yourself. And then welcome 2023 with a bang and get right back into living your best year.

If you can’t find the willpower or you’re not sure what to do about fitness, I have the solution for you. We are giving all Indonesia Expat readers our program for FREE! So once the festive season is over, you can jumpstart your 2023 with eight days of free coaching, workouts, recipes, meal plan guidance, and support to help you bounce back and start 2023 strong! Go to for your free plan now.

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