Holiday nutrition

Posted on Dec 25, 2009 in Uncategorized

by Dusty Feldman, BS, CPT · December 10, 2009

For most, holiday season means family get-togethers, parties with friends and co-workers, long travels and endless food and shopping, leading to less than perfect food choices and time away from our normal exercise routines. The holiday season is yet another reason to make bad food choices, like most of us need one.

The typical American puts on one pound during the holiday season. The average weight gain during adulthood is about one to two pounds a year, which means much of midlife weight gain can be explained by holiday eating. The big problem is not the one pound put on during the holiday season, it is the fact that most do not get rid of the holiday pounds we put on. Over the years, that holiday weight can add up. We will take a look at strategies to ward off these unwanted pounds.

Take a look around the nutrition world. Confused? No need to be. Below are not the newest techniques from the latest cutting edge plan. Rather, they are simple, time-tested, no-nonsense habits that you need to get into when designing a good eating program:

Eat every 2-3 hours. We should eat 5-8 meals per day.

Eat complete (containing all the essential amino acids), lean protein with each meal.

Eat fruits and/or vegetables with each food meal.

Ensure that the bulk of our carbohydrate intake comes from fruits and vegetables.

Ensure that 25-35 percent of our energy intake comes from fat.

Drink only non-calorie containing beverages, the best choices being water and green tea.

Eat mostly whole foods, not highly processed foods.

Take a daily fish oil and vitamin D.

Sure, we can get into other aspects of nutrition, but if we are not already practicing the above mentioned habits, everything else is pretty pointless. Take a look at the list above; chances are there are some changes that need to be made.

Making positive holiday food choices can be hard, with so many bad food choices available. In order to hedge against the unfavorable body comp effects holiday meals have, below are a few strategies to employ during holiday season:

Exercise 1-2 hours prior or after a holiday meal. Nutrient timing pays huge dividends in terms of how your body will metabolize certain foods at specific times.

Adjust your weekly exercise routines around the holiday season so you are not missing training sessions.

Do not skip meals on days of big feasts. Be sure to eat a meal 2-3 hours before a holiday meal. This will put a dent in your cravings and go a long way toward blunting your blood sugar/insulin response.

Fill your holiday plates with protein and vegetables. Eat your vegetables first. We are much more likely to take in fewer calories.

When looking for a superior holiday food choice, in most cases, the fewer ingredients in a food choice, the better.

Keep alcoholic beverages to a minimum. Empty calories do not offer a lot of nutritional value.

Our bodies do not play on a “cancelling out effect.” A piece of cake with nuts on it is not a healthy choice.

If you feel desert is a must, be sure to eat it directly after the holiday meal and not as a snack later in the day. You will be more likely to eat fewer deserts.

When shopping, be sure to have healthy snacks on hand. You will not be tempted to grab something at the mall food court or a fast food restaurant.

The holiday season does not have to be a reason to indulge in pumpkin pie and put off making good food choices as a New Year’s resolution. It is time to start practicing solid food choices one meal at a time to improve our well being and quality of lives.

Dusty Feldman is a certified personal trainer (CPT) through the NSCA and has his Bachelor’s of Science in Fitness and Human Performance. He is the founder of Feldman Performance and currently works at North Dodge Athletic Club in Iowa City and at Advanced Fitness in West Liberty. Any questions can be sent to him at Check out his Web site and blog at