Holiday Survival Diet

Registered Dietitian, Melaine Douglass, has some ideas for keeping it a “healthy holiday”.


This is not some quirky diet. This is a “survival guide” to help you get through a time when high-calorie foods are available everywhere you look. This is a diet plan that allows you to minimize/avoid the typical holiday weight gain while still enjoying a sensible treat everyday. The meals are strict, but nourishing, and for most people, the holiday treats are well worth the tiny sacrifice. Always remember, the word diet refers to “habitual nourishment” for healthy living. It’s really about how we nourish our bodies with optimum fuel so we can feel our best; it’s not about restriction, punishment, or deprivation.

Now if you’re the type of person who can walk away from endless dishes of candy, platters of cookies, fresh loaves of holiday bread, and “more-often-than-usual” family dinners, then this diet is NOT for you! (You can just eat the way you normally do.) Now for the rest of us, who are likely to sample a few (or many) holiday treats on most days of the week, then this special plan will help you keep your health in tact during these busy times. Ready? Here it is:


Exercise! And make it first thing in the morning! Set a goal to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Make an appointment to exercise with a friend, so that you can’t shrug it off when your day seems too busy. Then use a home workout video, visit a gym, go for a walk, or use a home treadmill, stationary bike or an elliptical machine. Skipping this step may result in lack of energy, negative thinking, and yikes… weight gain.


Eat one serving of wholesome fruit and one serving of 100% whole-grain cereal or bread for breakfast. Try to consume fruits with skins or seeds. One serving of wholesome fruit equals: one cup of fresh or frozen berries; one medium apple, banana, pear, peach, orange, or grapefruit; or one cup of fresh cubed melon. Try Fiber One cereal, Kashi cereal, or good old-fashioned rolled oats.


Eat raw (or steamed) veggies for snacks: baby carrots, sugar snap peas or sliced cucumbers or peppers are convenient. You can also snack on 1 – 2 small handfuls of nuts (per day), or fresh fruit.


Realize the holiday shopping, family parties, household duties, and work, church or community obligations may get to you. Assume you will eat a few meals away from home. In restaurants, order baked, skinless lean chicken, fresh salads, broth-based soups, and/or whole-wheat products when possible. Skip the dessert! (There are plenty of options elsewhere.)


For meals at home, eat a colorful salad with dark greens and chunks of vegetables. Use a low-fat dressing and toss in a canned beans, a handful of nuts, or lean chicken or fish. Add a glass of skim milk or soy milk. If you’re still hungry, add a slice of 100% whole-grain bread or a few crackers.


Enjoy one sensible portion of a holiday treat… without the guilt. (And yes, you can do this once every day!) A sensible portion equals: ¼ cup chocolate candies; 2 small cookies (2″ diameter); 1/8th piece of pie; one brownie (2″ square); one (1/2″) slice of holiday bread.

Don’t give up! You’ll likely have a few bad days, but just pick yourself up and start with The Holiday Diet again. . There’s so much to do and so little time, you cant do it all. That’s why some days you cook healthy, some days you exercise, some days you get eight hours of sleep and some days you don’t do a single thing right.


Melanie Douglass, R.D. Personal Trainer

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Author, “Tip-a-Day Guide to Healthy Living” (Dec 2006),

and “Losing it! 5 Keys to Successful Weight Loss That Work”

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