Stay on Track for the Holidays with These Nutrition Tips

The season of celebrations and treats, the month of December can be a particularly difficult period to maintain your weight loss efforts. Our routines are thrown off during the holidays as we fit more activities into our schedules, and we are often surrounded by tempting foods and beverages that are part of the season.

Tip #1: Make sure to get plenty of protein in each of your meals.

Making sure to eat plenty of protein during each of your meals can help with your weight loss efforts in many ways.  First, when you eat protein, you feel full for longer a longer period of time than you would with a high-carbohydrate meal, which can trigger large fluctuations in blood sugar and hunger hormones. Also, a recent clinical study has shown that a high-protein diet can reduce the brain reactivity and cravings that can be caused by “food cues,” or being surrounded by tempting treats; patients on a high protein diet were more able to exercise “dietary restraint” (Drummen et al. 2018).

Tip #2: If you are going to holiday celebrations or parties, go prepared!

Holiday parties can be full of tempting treats and sugary foods that people who are trying to lose weight should avoid. Rather than “suffering through it” and potentially succumbing to sugar cravings, you can be proactive by preparing or purchasing a favorite low-sugar treat to take to the party.  If you do this, you will have something to enjoy that won’t undermine your efforts to lose weight. You may even inspire others to make healthier choices!

If you don’t know what to take, seek out inspiration! Searching for “healthy holiday treats” or “high-protein, low-sugar desserts” or even “Christmas party foods for weight loss” using a web search engine or app such as Pinterest will yield thousands of ideas.  Try something new and get excited for the celebrations ahead! if you go prepared, you don’t need to dread a “do I eat or do I not” battle in your mind.

Another way to show up to parties prepared is to make sure you’ve eaten something you enjoy prior to going to the celebration.  If you go hungry to a gathering where there will be several celebratory foods and drinks, you are more likely to give in to temptation and eat foods that you otherwise would choose to leave alone. However, if you feel satiated from a recent meal, you will more likely be able to try just small amounts of foods or pass on the treats altogether.

Tip #3: Mindset is everything!

Your mindset can be a large factor in whether or not you are successful in sticking to your dietary plan.  If you are busy thinking about all of the foods that you CAN’T have, you may feel deprived and will be more likely to succumb to triggers and emotional eating.  In contrast, if you are able to focus your attention on the delicious, healthy foods you can eat and the positive choices you are making for your body, you are more likely to stick to your plan.

Think about some of your favorite foods on the good-for-you list – are there foods that feel like treats to you that won’t undermine your diet? It is important to treat yourself, so try to focus on what you can have that feels indulgent but won’t undermine your weight loss efforts. Being proactive with these food tips will help you stay on track with your weight loss through the holiday season!


Drummen, M., Dorenbos, E., Vreugdenhil, A.C.E., Stratton, G., Raben, A., Westerterp-Platenga, M.S., and T.C. Adam. (2018). Associations of Brain Reactivity to Food Cues with Weight Loss, Protein Intake and Dietary Restraint during the PREVIEW Intervention. Nutrients. 10(11). doi: 10.3390/nu10111771.