As soon as December starts, the holiday parties begin. By now you've already attended your fair share of fêtes, but with Christmas a week away and New Year's Eve creeping closer, the festivities will keep coming. It's the time of year to let go of the rules a little. What's a budget when you've got a million gifts to give? What's inclement weather when you must wear that minidress on December 31st? What's a diet when you've got big dinners with family, holiday desserts circulating the office, and potlucks with friends?
While we fully support an IDGAF attitude about munching on what you want these few weeks of the year, we wondered how the healthiest people handle holiday excess. By "healthiest people" we mean folks who make a living off being healthy: a nutritionist, a celebrity trainer, a naturopathic doctor, a health coach, and more. Here's what they do when faced with an abundance of #eeeats.
Indulge: do or don't?
The trainer: "I love the holidays and I absolutely cherish celebrating with friends and family. If I indulge one day, I will work out even harder the next and try to eat as cleanly as possible to make up for it. Balance is important. Be human. Indulge and then take responsibility for it. Don't pretend it never happened, or those days (especially during the holidays) will start to build up." —Anna Kaiser, celebrity trainer (clients have included Sofia Vergara, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kelly Ripa) and creator of AKT InMotion
The dietitian: "I'm a big foodie and love good food. I indulge, but do so wisely. No matter what I am eating, I always fill up at least half my plate with non-starchy veggies or a salad, and start by eating that. The fiber helps to fill me up, so I can eat smaller portions of the more indulgent foods and still feel full. I love cheese, and tend to make that the main part of my meal at holiday buffets. The calories add up quickly, so I fill up on raw veggies and hummus first, and only grab a few crackers. Then I can enjoy the cheese as my source of protein and fat for the meal, and feel full and satisfied pretty quickly. Plus, I always save room for a holiday cookie for dessert." —Alissa Rumsey, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
The healthy chef: "I believe in the 80/20 rule during most of the year. During the holidays, I apply the 70/30 rule. I will indulge, but this doesn't mean throwing caution out the window and eating foods I know will make me sicker (like flour/sugar concoctions). My very favorite holiday meal is this Kurobuta bone-in ham from Snake River Farms. They use a sustainable approach to raising meat, and the care they put into their hams can't be matched. It's melt-in your-mouth flavorful and unlike any ham out there. With a side of scalloped potatoes, homemade rolls with grass-fed butter, and a glass of ice nog, I am a happy girl." —Brigitte Therault, CEO and chef of The White Apron Chef
The naturopathic doctor: "A little indulging during the holidays should be enjoyed without guilt. Following a healthy lifestyle as part of a daily routine allows for these occasional cheats. While I don't have a typical holiday meal, items that I might indulge in during these times include cheese and dessert. Since I avoid the regular consumption of both, the holidays are a great time to enjoy these foods with close friends and family. I try to keep the desserts natural and the cheese raw." —Dr. Suneil Jain, naturopathic doctor at Rejuvena Health & Aesthetics
The organic vegan restaurant CEO: "I definitely indulge during the holiday season—I don't want to deprive myself of those opportunities to celebrate with family and friends. One of my favorite traditions is actually getting a Starbucks Eggnog Latte with my daughters on the first day of December. ... I don't admonish myself for enjoying all the indulgences this time of year has to offer, because once New Year's Day rolls around, my husband and I will recalibrate with a three-hour hike in Malibu and a meal at Cafe Gratitude that jump-starts our next 30 days of healthy eating. It's all about finding balance." —Lisa Bonbright, Southern California CEO of Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre
What about all the alcohol?
The health coach: "Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I'm usually not a big drinker, but I'm definitely not going to say no to a glass (or three) of champagne at a party! For me, the key to avoiding a hangover is making sure that I drink plenty of water before, during, and after the party. Coconut water is also magic for avoiding hangovers, and I've been known to stash a bottle in my purse so I can drink it on the way home from the party!" —Ilene Godofsky, health coach and vegan blogger at The Colorful Kitchen
The trainer: "I try to stick to either one glass of wine or clear alcohol and club soda. Keep it clean!" —Anna Kaiser
The dietitian: "Alcohol calories add up quickly. Three glasses of wine and you're at almost 400 calories. Plus, when you start to get an alcohol buzz you are less likely to make healthy food choices. I try to stick to light beer, wine, or a liquor drink made with soda water and limit myself to two drinks. I make sure to stay hydrated and slow down my drinking by alternating the alcoholic drink with a glass of water." —Alissa Rumsey
The nutritionist: "I make sure to start the night with a bottle of maple water to start off hydrated, and it is shown to help [metabolize alcohol]. I also sip on sparkling water between drinks to make sure I don't overindulge. My other trick is that I typically sign up for a race (marathon or triathlon), so that I have my eyes set on my goal and am motivated to stay on track." —Kate Weiler, nutritionist and co-founder of DRINKmaple water
The naturopathic doctor: "A couple rules of thumb I live by are to pace yourself and switch off drinks with glasses of water. This will slow you down and keep you from chugging drink after drink, plus it'll keep you from getting too tipsy. Consider the type of drink you're consuming. Wine is the preferred drink recommendation in these situations. ... If wine isn't your preference, try neat liquor on ice (a squeeze of fresh fruit can be added). One example is tequila on the rocks with a splash of fresh lime juice. Premade mixers, juices, and cocktails are loaded with sugar and if you're not careful they can lead to not only excess consumption but added belly fat by the end of the holiday season." —Dr. Suneil Jain
The one "bad" holiday dish that's #worthit
The health coach: "Stuffing! I absolutely love stuffing. It's just about the heaviest food you'll find at a holiday spread, but I always go straight for it!" —Ilene Godofsky
The trainer: "Sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Brings me back to being a kid at my grandmother's house for Christmas." —Anna Kaiser
The nutritionist: "Eggnog. As a kid, I always looked forward to a glass of eggnog around the holidays. Since it is such a seasonal treat, I love to have a glass or two over Christmas. I don't consume too much dairy, so I choose a dairy-free version." —Kate Weiler
The organic vegan restaurant CEO: "When I was growing up, every year my family would do a Swedish smörgåsbord on Christmas Eve. My mom would bake for two weeks before so there would be an entire table filled with desserts in addition to all the savory offerings that ran the gamut from a sandwich buffet to myriad types of salads. It was always my favorite night and is a tradition that we've continued to this day with my girls and husband." —Lisa Bonbright
The healthy chef: "I try to stay away from gluten or dairy most of the time. But during the holidays, I absolutely LOVE scalloped potatoes, which are full of gluten and dairy. I will also indulge by baking some homemade bread. Oh, and gingerbread cookies! Mostly, though, I love ice nog, also known as milk punch. It's a delicious, lighter alternative to eggnog, takes minutes to put together, and is a festive and surprisingly addictive." —Brigitte Therault
The dietitian: "My family has made the same Christmas morning breakfast for as long as I can remember, and it always includes fresh-baked cinnamon rolls. I rarely eat pastries, so this is the one time where I really enjoy it with my family. I pair it with scrambled eggs and a side salad, so I'm getting in protein and fiber for the rest of the meal." —Alissa Rumsey
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