Surviving the Holidays

The Holidays are here…

The air is getting crisp in the morning, the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin spiced everything has arrived, the holiday season is upon us, the best time of the year!  This time of year is wonderful for spending time with loved ones and family.  The chance to catch up from a busy year and reminisce of memories shared with others.  It is that time of year when we get to take a deep breathe and relax, or at least we often get that feeling to do so.

If you are someone that has been working all year long to manage your nutrition or just looking to survive all the holiday parties and festivities to not fall off the wagon…we have some tips. 

The idea of spending every weekend at a holiday party or even having to attend several Thanksgiving dinners may create some anxiety….

How will I resist all the desserts?

What will I cook for my guests without scaring them off?

Will I have enough self control to not over indulge?

Will my family understand?

What about my favorite holiday dessert that I am looking forward to?

Knowing that we all have these thoughts, Cumming Strength and Fitness put together this Holiday Survival Guide.  With a small amount of planning and giving yourself some flexibility we know you can enjoy your time while enjoying some tasty foods and not sabotaging all your hard work.

Healthy Cooking Hacks…

The holidays are a busy time with a focus on family and fun, so here at Cumming Strength and Fitness we want to keep it simple but tasty!  Here are a few hacks to keeping the foods tasty and healthier for you and your loved ones.

1. Cut out the extras. Remove added nuts and dried fruit from baking to significantly

reduce the amount of calories, while still keeping the deliciousness. If you can’t live

without them in, use half the amount and chop it up smaller than normal to stretch


2. Keep it creamy. Swap butter for lower fat cream cheese to achieve the creamy

consistency in mashed potatoes. Try out different flavors like herb and garlic!

3. Play with proportions. For fruit crumbles, change the ratio of the fruit versus the

oat/butter/sugar mixture. Recipes are often very heavy handed with the sugar, so

reduce it by half and load up the dish with more fruit to let the natural sweetness

shine through.

4. Cook items separately. Although stuffing and roasted vegetables cooked in the

turkey are delicious, it also means it will absorb a lot of hidden fat. Your guests can

always add gravy to their dishes at the table!

5. Add healthy options. Serve Greek yogurt based dips, rather than the usual cheesy

ones, with a colorful selection of veggies, alongside the usual cracker spread.

6. Ditch the casseroles. “Casserole” is code for covered in fat and creamy sauces. Try

fresher cooking methods instead. An easy example: hold the fried onions and dress your green beans with sautéed onions and a light sprinkle of fresh parmesan.

PRO TIP: Cut your dessert squares and pies into smaller portions. If you usually get 8 slices

from a pie, cut 12.

Handling Others Opinions

If you have a large family you likely will have to prepare a good amount of food and along with the portions comes opinions and curiosity of others.  Many of these comments you may get are genuine curiosity and may lead to some good questions.  The important thing to remember that you are doing this for you and the choices you make are to make a better you, regardless if they understand.  There is no reason for you to wonder or feel awkward about your choices, just like they choose to pile on the gravy you may likely pass on the gravy. 

Have a positive mindset

If you are the only one in your family working to take control of your nutrition you likely may feel like an outsider, but don’t!  Feel confident that you are doing the right things for you and be patient with others as they may not understand.  You may be able to help others as they ask you questions.

Have a Support System

At Cumming Strength and Fitness we believe you need a group of like minded people to help you go against the current.  Reach out to friends that have similar goals and help each other through encouragement and even accountability if needed.  It can feel isolating when you are the only one at the family dinner choosing to pass on the casserole.  Having some friends can make that process easier and will not make you feel alone.

Have a Plan

Whether you are accustom to measuring food or just ballpark your portions or are just choosing to eat good things, have a plan.  Remember this is a proactive choice to invest in your nutrition and your goals for yourself.  This is just a choice to own your goals and sticking to them.  The holidays are a great time to spend time with your loved ones but it does not have to derail your goals and nutrition.  Once you have your game plan in place, give yourself some slack….pick a small dessert and stick to that plan.  That way the smell of that pumpkin pie does not push you past your limit, have a small piece and enjoy it.

Making Good Choices

One of the many benefits of working with Cumming Strength and Fitness’s Nutrition Fundamentals is that you learn what to eat and how much.  That way when you are out you can ballpark what and how much to stay on track. 

Don’t Show up Hangry

Never show up to a dinner or party looking to clear out the buffet.  We know that when you are famished you will run straight to the fats and carbs first as a natural reaction of the hunger.  Have a high protein meal before you go to your party or your guests arrive, that way you do not run for the carbs first but fill your plate up in a more balanced manner.

Fill your plate up with your common foods

If you are at the family dinner or party, your first round of food should be a traditional approach to food – lean protein, lots of vegetables, and a complex carb sources.  Eat your protein first then veggies and carbs.  After this first full plate then go back for a small treat like stuffing/dressing.  If you have a strong sweet tooth then save room for that last.

Preset a limit on Alcohol

Alcohol is its own macronutrient, with 7 calories per gram. When we know the total calories of

a drink, we can “pretend” that those calories are coming from carbs or fats — but this is more

damage control than anything, used to limit overall calories in an attempt to balance things

out. It’s easy to forget that the calories from alcohol can add up fast. Go in with a set limit of

1-2 drinks for the evening and rotate your alcoholic beverages between water, seltzer or diet

soda to help spread them out.

Pick your Dessert

No matter what your weakness this time of the year- fruit cake, pumpkin pie, or a casserole, choose one food that you get to indulge only this time of year.  Don’t eat something you can eat any time of the year but save it for something special you love to eat. 

And don’t forget one bad meal is not going to ruin all your progress.  There is no guilt involved as if we make a mistake we pick back up at it tomorrow as a new day.  Use this holiday season to show yourself that with a plan you can make it happen. 


We hope that you’re walking away from reading this survival guide feeling assured and

confident that you’re set up for success this holiday season. One of the biggest lessons is that

it’s okay not to be perfect. Finding the right balance between sharing special moments and

focusing on your goals is important, so don’t be hard on yourself. Allow yourself to embrace

being flexible with your food and know that these are a few meals out of an otherwise

consistent year!

If you feel like you need some more guidance on a place to start with your nutrition goals reach out to us as that is what we are here for, to make your goals a reality.

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