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Staying on “Track” This Holiday Season

Tips for being mindful of your health goals during the holiday season!

November 19, 2019 / Wendi Irlbeck / No Comments

The holidays are a time for cheer, indulging, and celebration with family and friends at parties. So, how do you enjoy ALL the delicious treats, but still manage to stay on track with your goals? Fear not, I am happy to share my guidance as a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist. Read on for simple strategies that will help you feel at ease if your goal is to stay lean, energized for your workouts, and healthy through these next several months.

It is not about being perfect but maintaining consistency through accountability. How do you accomplish this? A place to start would be setting goals and creating clear intentions before attending holiday parties and events. Accountability can be achieved by chatting with family and friends at the party about your health and wellness goals. By setting an intent beforehand, you are less likely to indulge in food or drink that make you feel less than your best! Another great way to stay on track is to avoid skipping meals to save calories. This is a common mistake made by many that if they save all their calories for the party, they won’t overindulge. Consuming a balanced snack with lean protein and healthy fat like string cheese, hummus, and pepper slices can keep you fueled pre-party. Check out this awesome recipe for a tasty, lighter, and smoother version of hummus using Greek yogurt! Another factor to keep in mind is pairing quality protein and fat to help reduce cravings for sugar and overly processed carbs.

Let’s talk about beverages, which is a real challenge for most around the holidays. Alcohol lowers our ability to make good decisions and can lead us to stray from our goals. Most alcoholic beverages are loaded with sugar and empty calories. While aiming to maintain good health, energy, and optimize your workouts – limiting or avoiding alcohol is the way to go. Request a sparkling or fruit infused water at the party. Consumption, whether drinking or eating should be done mindfully. Being aware of what and how much your body needs for fuel is a great way to practice mindful eating. This is also a way to grow in appreciation for the meal prepared before you. After all, it is a time of cheer, spirit and gratitude during the holiday season! Another great way to stay on track and enhance your relationships with others is to focus on the people, not the food. Focus on the conversation with the people at the table instead of what’s on your plate. You will quickly learn how much the person appreciates your attentiveness and eye contact with them. This is also a good opportunity to plan a fun activity after the meal, a group walk, board games, and offer the host assistance with the clean-up. Again, not only will the host appreciate this, but this decreases the risk of you reaching for another dessert or overeating!

When trying to resist the urge to overindulge or play defense against the “food pushers” (aka the relatives or friends who are always trying to load your plate with pie), keep these tips in mind:

  • Include high-quality protein (chicken, nuts, seeds, beef, eggs, cheese, yogurt) on your plate.
  • Dessert is a must…just eat one serving of it. There are also some delicious, healthy recipe modifications, so you can still enjoy your favorite festive treats!
  • Practice mindful eating and acknowledge how hungry you really are.
  • Load up on veggies if you feel the urge to snack and limit dips and dressings that can be high- calorie.
  • Maintain consistent workouts. Be sure to participate in a good long run or some aerobic exercise to offset some of the inflammation and higher calorie foods that are not your usual diet. Encourage your friends & family to join you!

Lastly, if you get off track, you can always get back on the right one to lead you to your destination. As runners or walkers you can often get off the intended trail. If you do, do you just give up and remain lost? Of course not! You get back up and find the course back to your end destination. Our diet is the same, if you get off course, you can always get back on track the next day to reach your destination! The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and celebrated with loved ones and it is okay to try new foods and to sample delicious treats. Just be mindful of your goals and incorporate the strategies in this blog for success! For more tips on healthy eating and fueling athletic performance check out

Wendi Irlbeck

Wendi Irlbeck is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, health and fitness coach with a M.S. Food and Human Nutrition with a specialty in sports nutrition. Wendi uses her expertise in nutrition, fitness and overall health to service a wide range of clients ranging from sports performance to weight loss and overall healthy lifestyle. Wendi is a former collegiate athlete that uses her competitive nature to inspire and empower others to live a healthier lifestyle using nutrition as a tool to enhance athletic performance and overall quality of life.

Connect with Wendi – Twitter: wendi_irlbeck , Instagram nutrition_with_wendi and available for nutrition coaching services and public speaking on her website

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