Holiday Healthy Eating Tips

Holiday Healthy Eating Tips

by Coach Suzy

Ahhhh, the holidays.  It’s hard to believe, but they are almost upon us again!

One of my roles as an endurance coach is to educate athletes on healthy lifestyle nutrition, which can be a big challenge at a time of year when we are surrounded by high-calorie foods that we don’t normally eat and temptation is at its highest.  As athletes, nutrition is a vital part of our training regimen, just as is having the right blends of cardiovascular and strength training workouts.  So, how do we maintain the healthy eating habits that we work so hard on throughout the year and avoid over-indulgence during the holidays?  As Coach Joe stressed in his recent Coach’s Corner article on Being Consistent, “success in training, racing and life goes to the smart, steady and consistent.”  The same is true for surviving the holidays.  Following are some tips to help you be nutritionally smart, steady and consistent at those upcoming holiday events:

  1. Think about people, not food!  Concentrate on socializing, making new acquaintances, and having fun.  Spend time conversing with relatives or reminiscing with old friends.  Think about what you are celebrating, not just about how great the food is!
  2. Plan before you eat.  When you arrive at celebrations, check out all the food options and develop a plan which will enable you to sample foods you enjoy without abandoning the good habits you’ve formed.  Remember, it is ok to have some holiday treats, just spend your calories wisely and enjoy the foods you chose!
  3. Don’t arrive on an empty stomach. Although you may be tempted to skip lunch so you can splurge on dessert, don’t!  Have some vegetable sticks, fresh fruit, a salad, a handful of nuts, or a small sandwich before you arrive.
  4. Offer to bring a healthy dish.  This strategy not only guarantees you a good menu option, but your host will greatly appreciate the help.
  5. Avoid excess alcohol and snacks.  Save your calories for the main meal.  Alcohol provides many calories and virtually no nutrients.  Try not to sit within arm’s reach of tempting snack foods.
  6. Select small portions.  Moderation is the key.  Selecting small portions allows you to control your calorie intake yet enjoy all the different items offered.  If you really crave a high-calorie item, go ahead and treat yourself to a small serving.
  7. Eat slowly.  Take time and enjoy the taste of your meal.  Take small bites and chew slowly.  Remember that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are full.  Take your time and you’ll be less likely to raid the dessert table.
  8. Leave the table when you are done.  If you linger at the table, you may be tempted to keep eating even if you are not hungry.  Stay long enough to enjoy the meal, and then offer to help with the dishes, play with the kids, clear the table or take a walk.

With a little prior planning, your nutritional regimen need not be compromised, and you’ll ensure that the turkey is the only one stuffed this Thanksgiving!  Happy Holidays!

Suzy Cerra is a Certified USA Triathlon and Cycling Coach with Experience Triathlon Coaching Services.  She is also the President of Experience Triathlon Youth Club, an official USAT youth club promoting fitness and fun for athletes ages 6 to 16.  Learn more about Coach Suzy and Experience Triathlon at and at

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