Healthy Eating During the Holidays

Healthy Eating during the Holidays

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Rainier Fruit. I am a ambassador for Rainier Fruit. All opinions are my own. 

Within a few short weeks, Christmas and New Years will be here – and so will all the food and festivities that come along with the holidays. The food this time of year is delicious – so delicious that it can be easy to overindulge almost every day and lose track of your health and fitness goals. Healthy eating during the holidays can be challenging, but it is most certainly feasible – especially if you approach it with the right mindset.

I don’t like restrictive diets or deprivation – especially during the holidays. That said, I also don’t enjoy that lethargic, bloated, and generally inert feeling of indulging too much for too many days during the holiday season. Instead, I strive to find my own ideal balance of indulging in my favorite treats and healthy eating during the holidays.

Healthy Eating during the Holidays

Instead, I prefer to focus on healthy eating during the non-exciting holiday meals (because how exciting is Tuesday lunch anyway?) so that I can enjoy all of my favorite treats during the holiday season. I’m not going to turn up gingerbread cookies or my mom’s classic prime rib roast and Yorkshire pudding! I never eat those things during the other 50 weeks of the year, so why restrict them during these 2 weeks of Christmas and New Years?

I also don’t want to derail my running goals during the holidays. Sure, I won’t be running a 20 miler when I’m visiting family because I want to spend time with them – but I also want to feel good enough each day to squeeze in a quick run or Pilates workout. By finding my personal balance of healthy eating and indulging in holiday treats, I can navigate my training throughout the holidays and still enjoy the holidays.

Diet rules set you up for a cycle of restriction, bingeing, and guilt. Say you make a rule to only eat one sweet treat and drink one glass of a wine at your next holiday party. Then you arrive at the holiday party, have a second glass of wine, feel guilty about breaking your rules, and then eat everything in sight – whether you enjoy the taste or not – because you broke your diet rules. The next day, you feel too sluggish to exercise and then guilt yourself into restricting during the next event.

Instead of rules and a restrict-binge-guilt cycle, having a few flexible guidelines to help you make healthy eating choices during the meals when you’re not celebrating with family and friends will let you enjoy the seasonal indulgences without leaving you feeling sluggish the next day.

Three Guidelines for Healthy Eating during the Holidays

1. Aim for 6-9 servings of vegetables and fruits per day.

Obviously, there will be days where you don’t meet this goal – especially travel days when you don’t have many options. However, if you strive to eat a generous amount of fruits and vegetables each day, you achieve two things that will keep you on track for your health and fitness goals. 

First, you give your body the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. This will boost your immune system during a time of year when colds spread rampantly. The nutrients will also give your body the energy it needs to keep training well and stay energized throughout the holidays. You will feel better and be less likely to skip your run the next morning if you’ve had your vegetables!

Second, the sheer volume of 6-9 servings of vegetables and fruits will satiate your appetite. Instead of bingeing on cheese and crackers to the point of feeling bloated, the vegetables will fill you up a bit so that you can taste and savor the cheese and crackers without being tempted to overeat.

2. Prioritize your nutritious foods for post-run refueling.

Trust me: so many times over the holidays, I want nothing more than a big iced sugar cookie or a cinnamon roll after a run, especially when they’re freshly baked. But I know that eating that cookie or cinnamon roll won’t satisfy my runger or provide my body with the carbs and protein it needs for recovery.

Instead, I will eat my normal healthy breakfast with complex carbs and protein and then eat the cookie or cinnamon roll. This prevents bingeing on more than one cookie (because after a run, it’s difficult to stop at just one!) and ensures that your body is recovered and well fueled for your next workout.

Healthy Eating during the Holidays

By making a priority of your post-run nutrition, you will be able to have the energy to keep up with your training during the holiday season. Regular exercise will reduce holiday weight gain, keep you feeling healthy and energized (think of how good you feel after a run!), and keep you on track for achieving your 2017 running goals.

3. Assess how you feel each morning and night.

I want to enjoy all the treats the holidays have to offer, but I know from experience that if I have several cookies AND the cheese plate AND a few glasses of wine, I end up feeling pretty awful (or even downright sick).

You will not want to exercise the next morning (or do much of anything!) if you are hungover, bloated, or in a sugar coma from the night before. Then, you will likely just keep following the cycle of restricting (since you didn’t exercise) and over-indulging – and skipping all of your workouts.

Take a moment each morning when you wake up and each night before bed to assess how you physically and mentally feel. Are you feeling guilty from the food choices you made? Are you feeling bloated or sluggish? Do you wake up energized or fatigued? How did your food choices the previous day (for the morning) or the current day (for at night) affect how you feel?

Part of enjoying all of the holiday treats is enjoying them – not feeling like crap because you overate them or guilty because you won’t let yourself enjoy a treat. By assessing how you feel each morning and night, you will become more attuned to how your food and drink choices make you feel. This knowledge will make you able to find your own balance of healthy eating and indulging during the holiday season. 

[Tweet “3 guidelines to healthy eating during the holidays – no restrictions! #healthyholidaychallenge @thisrunrecipes @rainierfruit”]

Rainier Fruit wants to help you strike your ideal balance between healthy eating during the holidays and enjoying the treats of the season – and keep you accountable for including some fruits in your diet! I am a big believer that eating high-quality fruits and vegetables is key to maintaining your daily healthy eating goals. No one wants to eat a bland-tasting piece of broccoli, but Rainier Fruit’s conventional and organic apples and pear taste so good that hitting your daily fruit goal is easy!

Join into the Rainier Fruit Healthy Holiday Challenge!

Healthy Eating During the Holidays

The winner will receive a Nutri Ninja blender and a FitBit Blaze, along with fresh fruit from Rainier Fruit.

To enter, follow these simple rules:

  1. Take a picture of a healthy snack or meal featuring apples or pears and share on Instagram or Facebook.
  2. Follow @RainierFruit and tag them in the photo. Use the hashtags #BeWholesome and #EatWholesome

The Healthy Holiday Challenge will be open through December 26 for US participants only. Learn more about the challenge and read the rules here:

I am also hosting a FLASH GIVEAWAY for my readers! Leave a link to your Instagram or Facebook post in the comments and you will be entered for an additional giveaway of Rainier Fruit to help you stay on track of healthy eating during the holiday season. The Flash Giveaway closes at 11:59 PM on Sunday, December 11. 

Both Ryan and I agree that their apples are the best we’ve ever tasted (especially their honeycrisp), so you do not want to miss out on this chance!

[Tweet “Join @rainierfruit in the Healthy Holidays Challenge! #BeWholesome #EatWholesome via @thisrunrecipes”]

How do you eat healthy during the holiday season?
What’s your favorite indulgence this time of year?

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14 Responses

  1. I try to focus on what I “should” do rather than what I “can’t” do- like eating enough vegetables, drinking enough water, staying active. Doing those things helps me to feel my best even if I do indulge a bit!

  2. Yes! No restrictions is so key because I really want to indulge a little and enjoy some of my favorite (less healthy!) food and beverages. But, listening to my body for all these years has definitely taught me when enough is enough…not that I always listen but, at least I know what to expect in the morning if I don’t!

  3. You already know that I treat the holidays as an embellishment of my normal life–no restrictions, no detoxes. And if I eat my body weight in Brussels sprouts? How can I feel bad about that! I stock up on veggies first!

  4. These holidays will be markedly different than all the other 38 holidays I’ve had before in that I’ll actually be eating veggies this year! I’m still going veggie-strong. Okay but I do have a question… how big is a veggie serving? 6-9 servings is going to be tough for me to hit, not just volume-wise but hard on my tummy, too. My typical fruit/veggie day would consist of about 2 cups of cooked broccoli/cauliflower/peppers, and then a banana at some point during the day. Or, I’ll down a sandwich-sized ziploc baggy of mixed veggies (carrots, peppers, celery, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes) and a banana. I have to eat more, don’t I. Dammit.

    1. Good question! A serving of most vegetables is about one cup – so you’re getting two with your cooked veggies and probably another 2 with the ziploc! That’s 4 and then you just add some fruit or a veggie soup and you’re good!

  5. Gotta get all that fruit and veg in!! I’ve been turning to apples as a quick breakfast, and also have made an effort to focus on greens. For anyone struggling to get in veg, I really suggest finding a local juicery or smoothie shop to get them in. They taste awesome, are really portable, and are so much more concentrated. Hoping to get in some miles at my parents’ house too!

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