Eating your way through the holidays – just one part of the festivities that make this time of the year so enjoyable. Whether it’s a holiday roast, the sugary cookies, or a celebratory drink, food is a staple of the celebrations in many households.

It’s become increasingly common to hear about the practice of fasting in anticipation of the holiday meal. The thought being, by acknowledging how many indulgences a Christmas dinner may hold, you might be able to minimize the “damage” by fasting beforehand.

But how effective can this be, really? To fast, or not to fast? We’re debunking the myths.

“Fasting before a holiday meal might not be the best idea, especially given that most holiday meals are very rich in calories and most households will have many desserts. I find that if a person skips breakfast, they are more apt to over eat at dinner to compensate for the lack of nutrition during the day. Also, if someone is fasting during the day and not hydrating enough they can develop a headache and this could really spoil an evening out.

It’s best to choose a healthy light breakfast with lean protein and fresh fruit in the morning and have a light lunch, so that you can enjoy and savor the dinner without being starving.”

Kristen Gill, RDN


1. The first rule is to remain consistent.

Intermittent fasting was a trend that took over in 2019. Some medical research has shown the health benefits to narrowing the window of time when you’re taking in calories during the day. All intermittent fasting, especially when treating a chronic condition, should be done with proper guidance from a medical provider.

When it comes to the holidays, if you’ve adopted intermittent fasting as part of your routine, there’s no harm in keeping consistent. Otherwise, skipping breakfast for one day when you know you’re planning to indulge later, doesn’t exactly qualify as intermittent fasting. In fact, it’s likely that you’ll end up overeating by the time you make it to the main meal.

2. Protein is your friend.

Foods that are naturally high in protein provide a long-term energy source that will keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day. Starting the day with protein, especially when you’re looking forward to a holiday feast later on, is a great idea.

Poultry products, certain nuts and seeds, eggs, and soy products like tofu, are great options in the morning. The nourishment that these items provides will mean you’ll snack smarter when the appetizers are set out, and be less impaired by alcohol if you’re celebrating.

3. Stay hydrated.

No substitute exists for plain, old water – it helps ensure that all of your body systems are working properly. Staying hydrated promotes regular digestion and kidney function, both of which are important for moving food and waste through the body after eating.

Additionally, sipping water takes up space in your stomach the same way that food does. If you remind yourself to hydrate during a meal, your stomach will send a message to the brain that it’s full, discouraging you from eating more.

The Final Say

For most people, fasting puts our body in deprivation mode – making it less likely that we’ll have self-control when faced with sugary beverages, yummy appetizers, and decadent side dishes. A well-balanced breakfast that’s high in protein is a welcome alternative to fasting on the day of a holiday meal.

Eating breakfast kick starts our metabolism for the day, which means anything eaten later on will be absorbed normally. Though you may still treat yourself to some sweets, health experts think the potential to overeat decreases if we’ve properly nourished ourselves early on.


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