15 Tips for a Guilt-Free Holiday

The holiday season is challenging for most because of the delectable treats, yearly traditions that involve food and the eating the comes with the social aspect of the holidays. Traditions are great, but just because you’ve always done something the same way for 10 years doesn’t mean you can’t switch up how you personally celebrate the tradition. Lots of tough decisions when it comes to food and beverage choices are just around the corner, so I have compiled 15 tips to enjoy a guilt-free holiday season.

As a busy mom, I know how hard it can be to plan and sometimes put yourself first on a regular basis. Add in the holiday chaos and it can seem even more overwhelming to “be good” when it comes to what we eat. Convenience often prevails and that’s okay at times. Anyways…now here is what you came here for.

15 tips for a Guilt-Free Holiday

1. Set Goals and Challenges

For many, the goal typically isn’t about losing weight, but rather maintaining where you’re at.

However, setting a goal to reach at the end of the holiday season (even if it’s just to maintain) will help drive your decisions on a daily basis. A good way to reach these goals are by creating personal challenges that push you to achieve your end goal. These are great for the competitive types and don’t need to be overly complicated.

2. Exercise

Being sure to move your body 4-6 days a week will help keep your metabolism up. Be careful not use your exercise as a reward to eat more. Make it a family affair and find fun ways to stay active with the family rather than just sitting around and eating all day.

3. Set Limits for the Holidays

Setting limits on the amount of sweets you eat will help you stay on track and maintain your weight and your waistline. It’s possible to enjoy the foods you love and still have enjoyable, guilt-free holiday season.

4. Use a Smaller Plate

Portions control will be an ultimate winner here and even a challenge. How many holiday dinners have you left the table feeling absolutely disgusting about how much you ate? Challenge yourself to leave table feeling satisfied, not gross. 

5. Don’t Starve Yourself

For some reason, it’s a common thing to starve yourself all day in preparation of the delectable meal coming up. Don’t do it! Why? What normally happens when you finally get to eat after a state of feeling famished? You over-eat! Eat nutritious and small meals leading up to your holiday meal.

6. Don’t Drink Your Calories

The holiday season is filled with yummy flavorful drinks. But what comes with the yummy goodness is unnecessary calories. If egg nog is your guilty pleasure during the holidays, enjoy in moderation. If cocktails are your thing, find lower calorie options or substitutes. I think it’s safe to say that this is one area where some serious calorie reduction can be made. And with that, this may not be popular opinion, but drink less often.

7. Say No

Part of a guilt-free holiday is the ability to say no. It’s okay to say no, especially when it comes to food and beverage consumption. Many people feel bad for saying no, but nobody can knock you for taking care of yourself. Making choices that benefit you, your goals and your overall well-being should be top priority.

8. Be Mindful and Aware of Stress

People put so much stress on the holidays. But I never understand why, because holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. Re-root yourself about what the holidays are about. They don’t need to be about lavish gifts and spending outside of your means. Take some time to sit down and evaluate what stresses you out and what you can do to eliminate the stress.

9. Awareness of Emotional Eating

Be mindful of what you’re eating and why. Are you truly hungry? The holidays can be an emotional time for some whether it be due to financial stress, loneliness or the loss of a loved one. Try to find other outlets that help deal with the emotion that benefit you like meditation or exercise. Maybe you need to get lost in a jigsaw puzzle to distract your mind from thoughts of wanting to eat.

10. The New Year’s Resolution

I don’t typically buy into the new year’s resolutions, particularly because most resolutions are broken a few weeks in as old habits resurface. A new year doesn’t have to start for you to make changes in your daily habits that affect your overall well-being. Start before the new year and when the new year approaches, you’ll be motivated to keep forging on knowing you’ve already been at it and the turn of the year is just a new day.

11. How to Handle Cravings

Fill cravings with small portions and savor it. Remember, the after effect that over-indulging has on you mentally. Use these feelings to steer your choices to avoid the crap feelings. Don’t get lost in the vicious cycle of perpetuated negative feelings and reactions.

12. Stop Taste Testing

You don’t need to “sample” everything.  If you can’t help yourself, try your best to limit it.  Those “little samples” add up quick.

13. How to Snack During the Holidays

Eat snacks, but be sensible about and mindful about the foods you choose. Take a snack with you so you know you have a healthy option. I guarantee people will envy your “willpower” and ability to “be good”.

Related Post: What is Mindful Eating

14. Create Holiday Mantras

Create a few simple mantras for yourself to recite in the mornings and before a holiday event. Maybe an unexpected gift full of goodies graces your presence. Use these mantras as a way to stay true to your goals of the holiday season.

Examples:  I satisfy cravings with minimal amounts. I eat until I’m satisfied, not miserable. I will find new definitions of “delicious”. I have boundaries to reach my goals and I make choices that push me towards my goals.

15. Decisions

Lastly, you are in control of your own decisions and you have to live with the decisions you make. Establish new boundaries for yourself mentally and the respective action will ensue IF you want it bad enough. There are 2 types of decision makers. The ones that debate and the ones that just go for it without a second thought.

The Debater

If you are debating having a sweet treat, allow yourself a bite and share the rest with family or save it for another day.  If you are debating it hard enough, chances are you will be faced with guilt and regret on the other side of the treat, so it’s best to just say no.  I highly doubt you’ll be stuck awake at night saying “I should have had that pie”. In fact, I think it will be the other way around.

Mrs. Willy Nilly

If you are the type that just eats what you want without a thought to the repercussions, reel it in. Bring awareness to the overall decision that every bite has on your goals. If you don’t want to lose yourself during the holidays, then it’s best to gain some control and be more mindful and aware of every bite you take and how it affects what you want or don’t want when the holidays are said and done.

Which decision maker are you and how are you going to approach this holiday season? How will you incorporate change in your decision making during the holiday season? Incorporate those mantras regularly, especially when you have a holiday event to attend.


I hope these tips have given you some new ideas and ways to approach your holiday festivities this year. Again, I think it’s totally manageable to indulge and enjoy all while having a guilt-free holiday season within limits that keep you happy in the moment, but most importantly after the holiday hangover is in full swing.

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