Are your clients celebrating mindfully this holiday season? Fortunately, there is time to coach healthy choices even after Thanksgiving passes. Here are some ideas for you to help guide them to that mission.

Holidays = Treat Time?

While this truly is a magical season for so many of us, it also tends to be fraught with anxiety about how to remain on a healthy nutrition plan when surrounded by delicious and oh-so-tempting treats that only make an appearance once a year.

As with many families around the world, ours has culinary specialties reserved for seasonal holidays. Why it is that we never prepare these foods at any other time of the year? If these dishes were enjoyed all year long, there might not be as strong of a desire to eat more than necessary during the holiday season.

Everything in moderation might be a good 2019 motto. In the meantime, suggest your clients to be the host/hostess for one or two parties. True, this entails a considerable amount of work, but it also allows them to strategize and plan what is being placed on the serving buffet. Dressing up year-round “clean foods” for the holidays is simpler than we realize.

Thanksgiving food

Easy Holiday Treat Swaps

Many low-fat and high-fiber treats transform nicely. Cold shrimp served with cocktail sauce is always a favorite among guests of all ages.

A platter of colorful fresh vegetables accompanied by delicious homemade (or store-bought, in consideration of the busy holiday season) makes for a high-fiber addition that is also low in calories.

Individual crustless miniature quiches prepared with lower fat cheeses, egg substitute, and diced vegetables are creative finger food. Suggest using diced red and green peppers to add to the festive décor.

For adult gatherings, consider a special cocktail for the evening. Blend low-fat sherbet with reduced-sugar apple juice, add a splash of champagne, maraschino cherry juice for color, and serve in a champagne flute. This provides a healthier holiday alternative to eggnog.

Mindful Reminders

If all family gatherings and parties are already spoken for, navigating a holiday spread does not have to lead to a demise of all the efforts of the past 11 months. With advance planning, once-a-year favorites can be enjoyed mindfully. Remind clients to take their time perusing all the offerings on the buffet table.  Taking a moment to strategize what to truly savor and not just consume can save calories by skipping ordinary bread rolls or ranch dip in exchange for a small slice of Grandma’s apple pie.

It’s important to avoid arriving at a party with a voracious appetite, the result of having skipped breakfast and lunch to save up for holiday calories. This method always seems to backfire, rendering the over-consumption of unhealthy holiday dishes.

Filling up during the day on higher fiber foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables is a plan to advise. Even some natural peanut butter on whole-grain crackers or spread on apple slices provide satiety. Hydration throughout the day, preferably unsweetened, non-carbonated drinks sets the stage for success.

Mindful eating does not always top everyone’s holiday to-do list. Enlisting the help of a like-minded health-conscious friend or family member provides social support. Stick together in the buffet line and support each other’s commitments to choose wisely and keep portion sizes to a minimum.

Fiber: More Fabulous Than We Realized

The topic of fiber has recently been a popular nutrition concern, and many dieticians and clinicians alike are presenting new research on the value of its addition into daily meal plans, including holiday fare. Fiber increases the body’s production of a short chain fatty acid known as butyrate.

Fiber intake is often associated with reducing the body’s inflammation and improving the status of gut health, but scientists have come to understand that it may not necessarily be the fiber itself but the butyrate that your gut biome makes with it that leads to so many positive effects.

This vital substance helps the body achieve and maintain steadier blood glucose levels. There is also ample evidence that butyrate aids in the proper function of our digestive system by exercising control over the growth of cells lining the gut, balancing the death of older cells and regeneration of new ones.

Savvy Celebrating

Successfully party-going this holiday season can be healthy, delicious and redolent with treasured family favorites. An investment in advance planning helps everyone treat themselves to an enjoyable and anxiety-free celebration.


Cathleen Kronemer

Cathleen Kronemer is an NFPT CEC writer and a member of the NFPT Certification Council Board. Cathleen is an AFAA-Certified Group Exercise Instructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, former competitive bodybuilder and freelance writer. She is employed at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, MO. Cathleen has been involved in the fitness industry for over three decades. Feel free to contact her at She welcomes your feedback and your comments!