• Emily Achey, MS, RD

How To Stay On Track Through The Holidays: My Top 9 Tips

The Holiday Season is known for cookies, casseroles, cocktails, stress and of course the pressure to just let loose, indulge and clean up any damage come the new year. But wait, let’s rewind, rethink and set some intentions.

Here are my top 9 tips to stay on track this season:

Value yourself.

One great intention to set going into the Holidays is to be a little selfish. And by that, I mean to value your body and everything it can do, see and be. Everything it has done in the past, and every potential it has in the future. Part of expressing value for yourself is fueling it optimally, which has the potential to provide you with health in the highest form. Food, and the consistent and repeated dietary choices we make, has a powerful force on our health. Flexibility may absolutely exist in an optimal diet, but an on and off switch during certain days or parts of the year should not. Set an intention to value your health this holiday season. Write it down, share it will someone you care about, and live it out.

Be an inspiration.

One amazing way to make your contribution to a holiday party or gathering is to bring a healthy item. Not only does this ensure that you will have at least one great food option to munch on, but it sets an example for others! Some may poke fun, but why not be a glimmer of health, sparkle of inspiration, and provide your family and friends with some nourishing food.

Some of my personal favorites:

  • Roasted Vegetables (Brussels sprouts are always a hit at my gatherings!)

  • Seasonal Salad (spinach or kale with pomegranate seeds, is a beautiful seasonal choice!)

  • Crudité and Hummus and/or Baba Ganoush

  • Shrimp Cocktail

  • Plain ‘ole Steamed Vegetable (a refreshing option amongst the dense, specialty dishes!)

  • Fresh Fruit Salad (a must have on the desert table!)

Gather to gather.

Food is, without a doubt, a major staple in Holiday gatherings. Everyone collaborates on who will bring what to have a nice tasty variety. This is wonderful! It truly is. But, let’s take a few steps back, and look at the situation. Why are we gathering? Is it really just to eat food? I challenge you to make the primary focus on connecting with people, chatting, catching up, asking how their dog is doing, kids, job, etc. This focus will take the weight, temptations and pressure off of the food, and on to a really special part of the holidays.

Reset the temptation stigma.

Just because the Holiday’s are thought to be full of temptations, doesn’t mean it has to be for you. You have the choice. If you perceive, anticipate and believe you will struggle through parties and gatherings, then you will. It’s really as simple as that. In addition, the scenario of being tempted has a negative connotation. It is inferring that you are ‘bad’ if you give in to this temptation, thus leading to the guilt spiral. RESET. Go into the season without any negative expectations for yourself.

Mindfully indulge.

This is where we weave flexibility into an optimized diet and lifestyle. Of course there will be food choices over the Holidays that are not typical of your day- to- day diet. So, instead of being tempted and giving in, let’s instead practice mindfulness. This places a more positive, conscious reference onto your choices where you remain respectful to your intentions. Want a piece of your Grandmother’s cheesecake? Make that choice for yourself, enjoy it, and move on! Make it a willing choice instead of a break in will power.


Hydration is SO important, especially when parties, gatherings and busy schedules come into play that may bring along some of those mindful indulgences. Staying adequately hydrated will control the hunger, combat the bloat, and ensure steady energy levels as it modulates several aspects of our metabolism. Think of water of your best friend. Take it with you everywhere! Make it a goal to get at least half your body weight in ounces of water.

Veg out.

Start with vegetables! These power foods are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, and will give any meal some volume without adding caloric density. Offer to bring a veggie side dish or appetizer to ensure you have an option and always start by filling half your plate with non starchy vegetables (ie Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, etc.). With so many varieties and recipes, you really can’t go wrong!

Say no thank you.

Occasionally, you might have a friend or family member that tries to push the indulgences onto you. If you are not interested, the best way to combat these situations is to smile and say no thank you. Explain that you are satisfied with what you have had, and don’t want to over do it. And remember, if it’s Grandma’s special pie that you just don’t have room for, there is always the option to pack it up to take home for later!

Just be.

Be yourself, be with others and enjoy this special time of year. Be present and ward of any of ‘what ifs’ and ‘to dos.’ Don’t worry about the food. If you find yourself unhappy with your choices, reset and move on. The more we can focus on the present day, hour, minute and moment, the more we will connect with our loved ones, and truly enjoy what it is all about.

For a personalized plan of action, schedule your free consult today!

Wishing you and yours a healthy Holiday season filled with love, joy and gratitude♥

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