Navigating Nutrition During the Holidays

By: Marley Carviou, Rierson Fitness Personal Trainer

Our tips to still feel your best and avoid the guilt during the busy holiday season.

The Thanksgiving festivities are underway, and close behind them is the daunting feeling that all your hard work will be washed away with the last sip of alcohol or last bite of pumpkin pie. Although it can be easy to let that doubt creep in during this hectic season of life, there are a few guidelines we think are the most helpful when it comes to nutrition and the holidays. With all of the parties, family gatherings, and fun nights out, we want you to be able to enjoy all of the festivities while still feeling confident that your hard work in the gym won’t fall between the cracks of a little indulgence.

Eat your protein! 

When you walk up to that big table at your holiday party for work and it’s covered in delicious treats and homemade goodies that your coworkers brought, the first thing you should reach for is something high in protein. You hear us talk about it all the time, but why the heck does it matter during the holiday season? Not only does protein build muscle, it also plays a role in keeping us full. If we aren’t choosing nutrient dense foods, we will consume more calorically dense foods that will fill us up with calories but leave us still feeling hungry. Filling our plate with at least a palm sized serving of turkey, chicken, or ham is a great way to start our body off on the right foot.

Add in some extra veggies

Now that we have our protein source on our plate, we want to fill a large part of it up with a vegetable or two. I know, I know, the vegetables are usually not the most exciting part of the Thanksgiving spread, but they are still important! Challenge yourself to put at least one veggie on your plate. Vegetables are nutrient dense foods that are typically lower in calories so not only will they contribute to keeping you full to prevent more snacking, but they are also packed with fiber, a nutrient most people are lacking. Fiber is beneficial for digestion so it is important to get some in your every day diet, but especially around the holidays. The recommendations for women are 20-25g a day, and men should aim for 30-35g per day (,Facts%20label%20for%20fiber%20content.). If you are feeling ambitious and one vegetable isn’t enough, try to fill your plate with as many colors as possible!

Life’s too short, eat the pumpkin pie

Your plate has protein and vegetables, so let’s get to the good stuff: dessert. Nutrition shouldn’t be so restrictive where you have to avoid eye contact with the delicious looking pumpkin pie! Always keep in mind the 80-20 rule. 80% of your habits and nutrition choices should reflect a healthy lifestyle and be supportive of your goals. The other 20% is how we stay sane and enjoy the delicious foods made by family members and friends. That is what Thanksgiving is for after all! A bonus tip for once you down your piece of pie, try not to be a couch potato. It’s so easy to fall into a food coma after dessert, but if you are able to step outside for some sunshine and a short walk, your body will thank you! Gentle movement will help with digestion and to avoid the crappy feeling that usually follows too much food and too many sweets. 

Nutrition is a bump in the road that many people face throughout the year, and during the holidays that bump in the road turns into a giant mountain. Getting enough protein, eating some vegetables, and still giving yourself grace to eat the pumpkin are just a few simple tips to help keep you feeling your best during this holiday season. With the new year right around the corner, now is a great time to get a head start with making sustainable lifestyle choices that will carry you towards those new year’s goals. If you have more questions or concerns regarding nutrition, or you want to get started before the new year, you can send us an email at or give us a call at 319-290-6319. At Rierson Fitness, we want you to enjoy the holidays without those feelings of guilt, because it is possible to reach your goals while eating pumpkin pie! Happy Thanksgiving from the Rierson Fitness Team!

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at and Instagram @riersonfitnesss for more fitness tips and tricks.

On November 17, 2023 this entry was posted in Health and Fitness by Jeff Rierson.