Fresh, Small-Batch Nutrition for Better Health & Performance

Enjoying Holiday Food While Staying Lean


What to do when you want to stay in sight of your race weight but don't have the willpower to say "no" to all the delicious foods that come with the holiday season?

The first thing to remember is that you don't need to eat perfectly all the time to stay in reasonable shape. As with most things, the 80/20 rule applies for most people. As long as you have average, or better, insulin sensitivity and you're sticking to a healthy diet 80-percent of the time, you can usually get away with some indulgence with the other 20-percent of your diet. As you've heard many times before, moderation is key.


I can already hear the questions in many readers' minds: "I have really poor self control and/or want to indulge more than 20-percent of the time through the holiday season?" Well, there's no magic pill or program that's going to allow you to overindulge without suffering the ramifications. If you have the willpower you could get really strict with your diet when not treating yourself, but then again you wouldn't need to consider this if willpower wasn't already an issue.

Some may also be thinking, "What if I have poor insulin sensitivity and put on fat by just looking at pumpkin pie?" If this is the case, you'll need to choose your indulgences more carefully, and less often, if you want to avoid putting on the holiday pounds. You might need to limit the decadent foods to less than ten percent of your total intake to avoid resembling the Pillsbury Doughboy by January.


As someone who loves food and enjoys staying close to race weight, I find it helpful to plan ahead prior to holiday meals. If you know you're going to want that piece of apple pie, don't overdue it on the stuffing and mashed potatoes. Planning your meals is no different than planning a workout. If you have a hilly race upcoming, you're probably going to be training on hills beforehand. Likewise, if you know that you have trouble stopping once you start with buttered rolls, you might want to give yourself a limit, or decide to completely avoid them, before the meal starts. Be proactive.

Just remember that it's not an all-or-nothing proposition when it comes to holiday eating. Don't let that first indulgence lead to an off-the-tracks, month-long, holiday-eating train wreck. Set a goal and have a sound plan to accomplish it. As an endurance athlete, this is something you already have plenty of experience with.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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