Hack the Holidays: Enjoy the Season without Regret – Dr Fiona McCulloch

On various PCOS forums, one of the most common questions is how to survive the holidays while sticking to a healthy diet plan.

Family members, although well-meaning, don’t necessarily realize that the foods normally served at holiday meals can cause health setbacks. It’s hard to say “no” to grandma when she’s offering a bowl of the special dish she knows you’ve loved since you were a child.

So, how can a person get through the festivities without taking a huge step backwards in dietary health?

Read on for some of my advice on how to navigate family and work celebrations with less stress, so you can enjoy yourself while staying as healthy as possible.

Intermittent Fasting and Healthy Choices

On the big feast day, try intermittent fasting: this means that everything you eat is within an 8-hour window.

When you wake up, grab a cup of coffee, tea, water or any other beverage that doesn’t have any calories.

Start off your day with a meal packed with protein and healthy fats, but make this a late breakfast: an omelette with veggies, avocado, and smoked salmon would be perfect.

Add fibre-my go-to is PGX glucomannan fibre. I’m used to taking this, so I take 3-4 caps with a big glass of water before meals whenever I am at an event, feast or party.If you are just trying this for the first time it’s best to start with 1 or 2 capsules until you get used to the extra fibre.

For the Big Holiday Dinner

Think protein first when it comes to the main feast, so whether you’re having turkey or beef brisket, make sure that’s the first thing on your plate, followed by as many veggies as possible. If you plan on having dessert, skip carbs like mashed potatoes and stuffing, or just take the tiniest amount possible.If you’re cooking dinner yourself, consider making mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes.

Eat the lean protein like turkey breast first! This will help you to feel more full, so eat slowly and savour every bite. After that, eat the vegetables, and lastly any carbohydrates. Since you’re eating the carbohydrates last, this will slow down the storage of fat, and offer a feeling of fullness.

When you eat protein and vegetables first, you’re much more likely to feel full before getting to the carb section on your plate, so you can taste them without over-indulging: you really won’t be hungry enough to eat much.

If someone wants you to try a special recipe they’ve prepared, remember you don’t have to eat the whole thing! Just try afew bites and you’ll get to indulge without overloading on sugar, which causes your insulin levels to spike.

Additional Tips:

Whenever you go out to a gathering, remember to eat before you go! Have some protein or almonds prior to the event so you’re not ravenous when you arrive.

Don’t keep eating when you feel full: try to enjoy conversation and social time instead.

Stick to either dry wine, or unsweetened alcoholic beverages like vodka with soda and fresh lemon. Avoid beer, and sugary cocktails.

If you’re feeling hungry or like having treats, help yourself through by making yourself some high protein “treats” such as these brownie bites ahead of time:

Protein Brownie Bites


  • 1 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Protein Powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sea salt
  • 1/3 cup room temperature coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons almond butter
  • 15 Drops Liquid Stevia
  • 3/4 tbsp. water
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup miniature dark chocolate chips


Combine the almond flour, protein powder, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Blend well.

In another bowl, mix up the almond butter, coconut oil, stevia, water and vanilla extract until smooth.

Add the wet almond butter mixture to the dry mixture and mix to combine them.

Gently stir in the chocolate chips with a fork or spoon. Roll the mixture into tight 1 1/2 inch balls and store them at room temperature.

In addition to the healthy food choices you can make, try to find other indulgences over the holiday that make you happy, such as a massage, a trip to the spa, getting together with friends, and relaxing with a favourite book.

Happy Holidays!

All photos via Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons

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