Food For Thought

Festive fruits displayed for the holidays

How to Keep a Healthy Diet During the Holidays

Coach Caroline, 12/08/2015

Whether you’re a fledgling at plant-strong eating or a long-time nutritarian, maintaining a healthy diet through the yuletide can be a challenge. Your strong conviction today can whittle away to nothing tomorrow in the face of egg nog socials, cookie bake-offs, and Hickory Farms catalog blitzes. If you’re not prepared, the frequent sights and smells of Christmas will turn today’s commitment into tomorrow’s, “I’ll get back on track after the holidays.”

What’s a would-be whole foods plant eater to do? Well, I’ll tell you what I did just the other day at my friend’s vegan Thanksgiving potluck, and hopefully you can use some of the same strategies to navigate your way through the coming food fest.

The Plan

First and foremost, I made a food plan. That’s right, leaving food choices to caprice—well, by now we all know how that story plays out. Personally, I don’t like feeling fat and mildly ill at the end of a celebration with friends, so I decided the following in anticipation of our un-turkey potluck: no hors d’oeuvres, take my own huge bowl of salad veggies, put a little of up to three potluck offerings on top of my salad, and take dessert to go.

Of course, it’s one thing to set the menu, but with “cheesy” potato mash*, vegan cranberry walnut stuffing*, a big tofurky*, how would I stick to my nutrient-dense guns?

Take Advantage of Nearby Pets

Well, before the feast, some of the more athletic in our group had met for a 6-mile hike with about 1,000 feet elevation gain—a decent workout—and when we arrived back at the potluck locale, I was starving (or so I told myself). The hostess had laboriously concocted her famous vegan brie, and nothing was stopping me from sampling some on a cracker and then some more on a small bread round. I was very tempted to continue “tasting”, but since I had made a food plan that had specifically excluded hors d’oeuvres, I was feeling a little guilty. Yay! After all, pain motivates change, and in this case it motivated me to remove myself from the vicinity of temptation and over to the 19-year old cat stretched out in a ray of sun on the carpeted living room floor.

Be Last in Line to Eat

Snuggle time with Blackie was just what I needed to break the creamy brie’s spell over me. When it was time to eat, I waited a while for others to go through the buffet first—not because I’m so polite but in order to increase the likelihood that I’d be one of the last to finish eating and thus be less tempted to return for seconds.

Pleasantly sated with a belly filled mostly with romaine lettuce, grated carrots, and oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, I now turned my attention to a vegan dark chocolate bar which had failed to escape my well-honed cacao radar earlier.


“Hmmm. . .not on my food plan,” I reminded myself as I moved into the kitchen to start a pot of hot water for tea (another great anti-eating strategy). Nevertheless, as I stood there watching the pot not boiling, I peeled open the cardboard package and then the foil inside and broke off one small piece, which I allowed to slowly melt in my mouth.

I contemplated more, but again the guilt (predicated on my “take dessert to go” plan)—along with a reminder that, “I’ll be so happy when I leave here if I don’t eat any more,”—and my hot tea were all I needed to prompt me to extricate myself from the chocolate’s reach.


Arriving home later with my date-sweetened pumpkin pecan pie, I celebrated a successful Thanksgiving dinner, in which I stuck mostly to my food plan, left with room to spare for dessert, and enjoyed a few fun hours with friends. (Though I must say my arse was sure sore the next day from hiking up that long hill!)

Happy Healthy Holidays!


Caroline’s helps people adopt a nutrient-rich diet by teaching them the psychology of permanent weight loss

*These dishes, while free from animal products, still contain plenty of nutrient-poor calories from margarine, oil, salt, bread, and isolated soy protein.


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