9 Tips for Healthy Eating During the Holidays | Norton Sports Performance Louisville, Ky.

9 Tips for Healthy Eating During the Holidays

During the holidays it can be to keep up with health and fitness goals.

Whether those goals are:

  • losing weight
  • training for a half marathon,
  • or decreasing your total cholesterol and blood pressure.

We are striving for our goals and want to try our hardest to stay the course! I hope the following blog will help you all focus, have fun and stay on the path to greatness you are paving for yourself now!

  1. Plan Ahead for Success
  • Set Realistic Goals
  • Create a Meal Plan
  • Make a Healthy Shopping List
  • Stock Healthy Snacks
  1. Practice Portion Control
  • Be Mindful of Serving Sizes
  • Use Smaller Plates and Bowls
  • Avoid Overeating at Parties and Gatherings

3. Stay Hydrated

  • Choose Water over Sugary Drinks
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption
  • Infuse Water with Fruits and Herbs for Flavor


4.  Balance Your Plate: How to build a holiday plate

Step 1

Gravitate toward the green sides: Fill half your plate with a variety of vegetables. They’re full of nutrients and fiber to help you with recovery and overall health.

Step 2

Fill up on protein: Fill a quarter of your plate with lean protein (turkey breast, pork loin, tofu, and chicken breast).

Step 3

Pick a starch: Pick one or two of your favorite carbs and fill the remaining quarter of your plate (potatoes, rolls, stuffing).

Don’t forget dessert! Why? Because it tastes good and you’re allowed to enjoy the holidays!

  1. Practice Smart Substitutions
  • Use Healthier Cooking Methods
  • Replace Unhealthy Ingredients with Healthier Options, here are some examples


Instead of this:

Try this:

Gingerbread latte Nonfat Americano misto

Add gingerbread sugar-free syrup, sprinkle nutmeg on top and skip the whipped cream.

Peppermint mocha Frappuccino Quad or triple espresso

Add nonfat milk and double-blend with sugar-free mocha and sugar free peppermint syrup.

Cinnamon bun Cinnamon bun hummus

Serve with warmed pita bread triangles.

Eggnog Apple cider



  1. Don’t Skip Meals
  • Have a Balanced Breakfast
  • Avoid Skipping Lunch or Dinner to Save Calories
  • Snack Wisely to Avoid Overeating

7.  Avoid Skipping Meals to Save Calories

Meal frequency/consistency is key, especially in regards to a muscle-building and performance goal.

Do not go a full day without eating in anticipation of a larger meal later that day. Keep up with your normal eating routine — eat about every three to four hours.

Be sure to include a protein and carbohydrate source in all of your snacks. Try having a small snack high in protein before going to the event so you don’t potentially have cravings and overeat.

  1. Practice Mindful Eating
  • Pay Attention to Hunger and Fullness Cues
  • Avoid Eating Out of Stress or Boredom

It’s OK for your plate to look different

As an active individual or athlete, it’s OK for your plate not to look the same as your family or friends. You are fueling to perform, reach body composition goals, prevent injury and recover. Focus on your own plate and avoid comparing with others!

  1. Give Yourself Grace
  • Allow for Indulgences in Moderation
  • Avoid Guilt and Focus on Progress
  • Get Back on Track After a Slip-Up


  • Recap the 9 Tips for Healthy Eating During the Holidays
  • Emphasize the Importance of Holiday Health Tips
  • Encourage Readers to Prioritize Their Health and Enjoy the Holiday Season

Is it just me or did 2022 take about five seconds to get back to Costco and Walmart having Christmas trees and Starbucks having pumpkin spice lattes? Well, here we are!

Tips for holiday events

Get in the kitchen*

If you have a lot of events to attend, put on an apron and make some of your own dishes — this way you know you will have options that you like and that are aligned with your goals. Not great at cooking? Use this time to experiment and have fun! Keep it simple and try to enjoy the moment.

*I share some recipes below that can be a good start!

Train in the morning

Consider getting your training in before an event. That way it is done and out of the way, and there is no need to stress. Wake up an extra 30 minutes early and get a run in, or a quick high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. After a solid training session, calories more likely will be used for muscle recovery and growth!

Tips for holiday travel

Pack snacks

When traveling, it’s easy to go through a drive-thru for a snack. Instead, pack a small cooler or lunchbox with nutritious food that will keep you full and enhance your performance and recovery!

Aim for protein plus carbohydrate

  • Trail mix
  • Whole fruits
  • Beef jerky
  • Cheese sticks
  • Deli meat
  • Dried fruits
  • Protein bar/protein powder
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Tuna lunch kits
  • Hummus and pretzels

Stay on schedule

Try your best to stick with your normal routine, like eating at similar times throughout the day. Traveling may make food choices different, but try to maintain as much consistency as you can.

Stay healthy at rest stops and drive-thrus

Having pre-packed healthy and filling snacks should help you avoid food decisions that aren’t aligned with your goals. If you have no other option than going to a fast-food restaurant, here are some things to consider

  • Ask for sauce on the side, so you can choose the amount.
  • Get calorie-free drinks instead of high-sugar drinks.
  • Opt for fruit instead of fried sides.
  • Get grilled instead of fried options.
  • Check nutrition labels for protein content.
    • Opt for something with at least 20 grams of protein.

Holiday swaps

We all love a good holiday coffee from Starbucks or a decadent treat. Here are some healthier options that will still satisfy your sweet cravings.

Recipes to try!


The flavorful marinade is created in two steps. First, a quick spin in the food processor creates a paste from aromatic ingredients and seasonings. Then finely chopped garlic and rosemary are stirred in to help form a crust with appealing texture and concentrated bursts of flavor.

  • 5 garlic cloves peeled, with 2 cloves reserved and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons rosemary leaves, with 3 tablespoons reserved and finely chopped
  • 8 to 12 rosemary sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large pork tenderloins (about 3 pounds)
  • 12 ounces thin-sliced bacon (about 12 slices)
Pulse 3 cloves of garlic, the pepper, allspice, salt, brown sugar, tablespoons rosemary leaves and 2 tablespoons oil in a food processor until a paste forms. Stir in the finely chopped garlic, 3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and transfer to a small bowl. Rub marinade all over pork. Let sit at least 30 minutes, or cover and chill up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Wrap each tenderloin in bacon, working in a spiral from top to bottom and letting each layer overlap slightly, until completely covered (about 5 bacon slices per tenderloin). Secure any exposed bacon slice ends with toothpicks.

Arrange rosemary sprigs on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange pork on top of the rosemary. Brush tops of tenderloins with oil. Roast pork until it reaches internal temperature of 140 F for medium-rare (about 20 minutes) or 145 F for medium, (about 25 minutes). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with cranberry sauce alongside, if desired.


  • 1.5 pounds green beans cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Onion topping:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 375 F.

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Boil green beans until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a separate pan, saute onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until brown. Remove onions from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan used to saute the onions, add mushrooms and saute until soft. Add in enough flour to coat mushrooms. Next, pour in milk, whisking as you pour. Add water, cottage cheese, Parmesan, salt and pepper, and whisk until cottage cheese melts.

Add green beans into the mushroom sauce and stir to combine.

In a bowl, mix onions with breadcrumbs, Parmesan and water and stir to combine.

Spray casserole dish with cooking spray and pour in the green bean mixture. Top it with the onions and bake uncovered about 25 minutes.


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Salt and cinnamon sugar for topping.
Preheat oven to 450 F.

Wrap sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until soft.

Remove from oven, cut in half and let cool. Remove and discard skins and set sweet potatoes aside.

Reduce oven to 375 F.

Add applesauce and sweet potatoes to blender. Blend until smooth. Add melted butter, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg and blend.

Transfer to 9-inch baking dish and sprinkle top with pecans and topping. Bake at 375 F for 25 to 30 minutes


  • 4 1/2 ounces garbanzo beans
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (vanilla cinnamon flavor)
  • 6 ounces Fage Total 0% Greek yogurt
  • Lots of cinnamon!
  • Crackers, shortbread cookies or warm pita bread
Combine the beans, protein powder, yogurt and cinnamon into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Pour into serving bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Serve with crackers, shortbread cookies or warmed pita bread.

Marisa Faibish, M.S., R.D., CSSD, LDN, is lead performance dietitian at Norton Sports Health Performance & Wellness Center.

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