Why Holiday Meals Don’t Have to Destroy Your Diet

I’ve experienced nearly a decade of attempting to eat healthily during holiday meals and special occasions. Let me tell you, it doesn’t work out perfectly as often as I would like.


I remember accidentally eating my food allergens and even purposefully eating my food allergens. I remember rationalizing the dessert because I only get this dessert this time of year or I “deserve” it. I remember overeating as per tradition and out of childhood habits. There was always something that didn’t go to plan.


My transition from Eating for Pleasure to mindful eating and Eating for Health was messy. My diet began changing when I cut out meat/poultry, seafood, and dairy products. By some people’s definition, I was a vegan. It was a recommendation by my doctor at the time as an experimental therapeutic approach for mysterious allergy symptoms. This made Eating for Health during the holidays even harder.


The hardest times to follow my Eating for Health plan was during the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinner.



  • Availability and variety of foods that I would love to eat but aren’t good for my body


  • Lack of foods that were flavorful and healthy


  • Constant need to defend my personal dietary choices from family and friends who believed they knew what was better for me


  • Time needed to cook foods that I could bring and eat


  • The insecurity about hurting the feelings of the host or those who prepared foods I won’t eat


I may have failed my diet occasionally at these family get-togethers with traditional foods, but as the years went on, it became easier to develop personal traditions.

The more experience I had bringing foods, explaining that I’m eating for my health, and pinpointing foods that have hidden allergen ingredients the easier it became. It took time to settle into a new way of eating and for those around me to start talking to me about life rather than my diet. However, with time, my “new normal” stabilized.


The more you practice Eating for Health, the stronger the lifestyle becomes. Saying no to processed, manufactured foods and yes to flavorful, nutritious meals turns into a second nature


I found one thing very important. Every time I messed up, I acknowledged my decision (or impulsion) and dropped the guilt. I got back on track instead of letting the choice derail my entire week. I would remember the choice I made the next time a troublesome dietary decision appeared, and it helped me avoid emotional eating and choose the healthier option.


Keep practicing mindfulness about your eating choices and habits! The more you put in now, the more relaxed Eating for Health will feel.

Good Luck!

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By Matthew Koontz