The Athlete’s Guide to Surviving Feasting Season

Even the most elite athletes have their favorite cheat meals and treats, especially around the holidays. American distance runner and Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen loves making—and eating—her family’s traditional Thanksgiving dishes. And check out this killer holiday martini (21 and older, please!) from Natasha Hastings, American sprinter and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

There’s nothing wrong with indulging once in a while. But the holiday season is long, and you’ve worked way too hard to blow it on a 6-week diet of eggnog and stuffing (speaking of stuffing, we hear this low-carb alternative is crazy good).

Stay on Track With These 5 Tips

  1. Apply the 80/20 rule. It’s a pretty simple concept: Choose clean, whole foods for 80% of your daily calories, and treat yourself the other 20%. The holidays are the perfect time to try it out, and if you end up liking 80/20, it can be a sustainable way of eating for life. Find out more from Shape.
  2. Change up your recipes a bit. Eating healthier during the holidays doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of your favorite dishes. You can cut some calories and make a few simple ingredient swaps to make your recipes a little lighter, without sacrificing taste.
  3. Don’t be afraid to start new traditions. “There’s just too much food!” said nobody ever at a holiday meal. Bring a couple of these light yet delectable dishes to the table, and your loved ones will be begging for their return every year.
  4. Have a holiday-feasting game plan. If you’ve committed to one too many holiday gatherings, there are things you can do to avoid overindulging. Come up with a plan, and stick with it. For instance, eat a healthy and filling snack before every event. Get more tips from Ironman Life.
  5. Keep exercise a priority, despite the craziness. There are a million and one excuses to skip a workout this time of year. But you don’t have to, because your workouts don’t have to be long to be productive. From quick fartlek runs (funny name—serious results) to HIIT workouts, interval-style training has a ton of benefits, including burning more calories—perfect for feasting season! You also might consider doing a 5K Thanksgiving morning to get a jumpstart on the calorie burning. Find a race near you.

Bottom line: ‘Tis the season for comfort and joy, and food is a big part of that. A good holiday nutrition plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Make smart choices when you can, keep your body moving, and enjoy the holidays with family and friends!