The Stress-free Guide to Eating Well During the Holidays

by Jim Gazzale

The holidays are here! The next two months will be full of parties, food, family, and friends. To some that may sound stressful, especially if you're worried about gaining weight or staying consistent with training. However, it's possible to maintain a proper balance of quality training and eating well enough without meticulously counting calories because, let’s be honest, that’s a major drag!

You want to keep the Thanksgiving dinner conversation about your exciting accomplishments over the past year. The talk around the table should not be about the Tupperware containers of food you're eating from while everyone else enjoys sweets, treats, and gravy soaked mashed potatoes.
So if you're stressing over the fact that you'll consume more calories than you'll burn during the annual turkey trot, don’t worry! You can successfully navigate the holidays without worrying about how to stay on track.

Stay in control
I’d venture a guess that no one is holding you down and forcing you to overeat on Thanksgiving. You’re in control of your food choices. If you want a slice of pie with a scoop of ice cream on top, go for it! Just get right back on track the next day with proper portions. It's not about one type of food or eating from one type of establishment. It's about your choices, your decisions, and your actions. You always have a choice.

Focus on protein
Build your meals around protein. To keep things simple and avoid overeating, have a Palm size portion of protein with each meal. This will help keep you feeling full longer. Carbs (one cupped handful) and fats (one thumb size portion) are easy to track down, they’re everywhere. Protein can be a bit harder to prioritize when cakes, breads, stuffing, and candied yams are staring you in the face. 

Stick to your schedule
Try to stick to the same eating schedule. If you're hosting on Thanksgiving I'd bet you try to have some sort of food or appetizer out on the table before guests arrive. And on the flip side, if you're traveling you're probably expecting to eat something, most likely a snack as soon as you walk in the door. 

Your stomach has adapted to your typical eating schedule. Try your best not to interrupt that. This helps prevent overeating when you finally sit down for an actual meal. 

Water helps control your hunger. Next time your stomach is rumbling think back to when the last time you had a drink of cold water. You may just be dehydrated. Staying hydrated helps keep those cravings for sugar and processed foods at bay. Having plenty of water to drink also helps you arrive at your destination feeling alert and energized rather than run down and fatigued due to a lack of water.

Enjoy your company

Don't get bogged down in the details of what you're eating. The most important thing about the holidays is spending time with the people you love. You can't take full advantage of that if you're worrying about how many calories you're eating or how much "weight" you'll gain the next day. Allow yourself to indulge and appreciate that food helps build and strengthen your relationships with family and friends.

The scale will go up on Black Friday and that's OK. It's meaningless. You won't gain five pounds of fat in a single day. It doesn't happen. So eat, enjoy, smile and get back on track as soon as you can with normal eating and exercise.

Want to be a better fueled athlete? Visit to get your FREE copy of my recipe book.

Jim Gazzale


I'd love to tell you that I've always been in shape and athletic. But the truth is that I used to be overweight and pretty unhealthy. My lifestyle was holding me back. When I decided to make healthy, sustainable change I knew it wasn't going to be easy. Having a personalized nutrition plan helped get my lifestyle on the right track. It's afforded me the opportunity to experience some of life's greatest moments without being self-conscious about my weight or appearance. My relationship with food has changed dramatically through habit-based coaching techniques and a desire to make incremental improvements each day, each week, and each month.

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