Healthy Tidbits

With You All The Way

2020 Holiday Survival Guide

Dec 16, 2020

2020. What a year it has been! Despite the pandemic, you have pressed on in your journey towards health, and we commend you!

Even in a “normal year,” the stress and emotions of the holiday season can be a challenge for weight loss surgery patients or anyone who is trying to maintain a healthy weight. We understand the pressure our patients face during the holidays, and with the added stress of the pandemic, you may be wondering how you’re going to survive the holiday season.

At Nicholson Clinic, we want you to know you’re not alone! We’ve put together this holiday survival guide to help you navigate this season of food and festivities.

Have a Plan and Stick to It

What are your current goals? Are you in the rapid weight loss stage after weight loss surgery? Are you simply trying to maintain your goal weight? Or are you still considering weight loss surgery as an option? Perhaps you’re just trying to stay on track during the holidays. Identify your goals and make a plan to help you achieve those goals.

Understand Your Emotional Triggers

Eating is psychological. And for many of our patients, their struggles with weight are emotional in nature and often the result of emotional eating. As a culture, we equate food with comfort. So in a year like 2020 when we’ve all needed a little extra comfort, it is easy to see how difficult the battle of emotional eating can be. As the holidays approach, it’s important that you can identify your emotional triggers so that you can overcome them.

Focus on eating foods that contain Omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D — all nutrients that can help boost your mood without impacting your weight. Salmon, oatmeal and cottage cheese are a few good options that contain some of these nutrients.

Be Mindful When You Eat

Avoid mindless nibbling on holiday snacks and treats and pay attention to your portion sizes. Americans celebrate the holidays with food, and lots of it. Listen to your body and stop eating when you start to feel full. If you’re at a holiday gathering, take a quick assessment of the foods that are available and decide which ones are most worth your time. Make healthy options the mainstay of your plate. And when you can, find non-food ways to celebrate instead.

Make Time for Exercise

It is a busy time of year, but don’t let your fitness program take a backseat to the holidays. Schedule time to get your workout in, even if that requires getting a bit creative! Remember, not only does exercise help you maintain your weight loss, but it also creates “feel good” hormones called endorphins, which can also help you combat any stress, anxiety or depression that might creep up this time of year.

Know When to Say “No”

Holiday gatherings look a bit different this year, but if you are invited to holiday parties or gatherings and you feel uncomfortable attending, or unsure you’ll be able to stick to your healthy eating plan while you’re there, know that it is OK to say “no.” If you do choose to attend a holiday party, consider eating before you go so you aren’t starving when you arrive. And don’t hang around the snack table!

Surround Yourself with Positive Support

Having a strong support system around you is crucial to the weight loss surgery journey, and this support network is especially important during the holiday season. Keep those positive influences around you, along with those who know your struggles and the efforts you’re making to get healthy. And steer clear of anyone who may push you to party too much or eat too much food.

Make Your Own Healthy Holiday Foods

There are plenty of festive foods you can enjoy this time of year that won’t wreck your diet. Here are a few Nicholson Clinic-approved holiday recipes to try.

Apple Pie Splash Mocktail

  • 1 cup light apple juice (if you can’t find light mix ½ cup water with ½ cup juice)

  • 1 bottle white wine or 4 cups light white grape juice (if you can’t find light, mix 2 cups water with 2 cups juice)

  • ice cubes

Garnish with:

  • cinnamon

  • cinnamon sticks for stirring

  • 1 apple, thinly sliced

Mix all ingredients together in a large pitcher. Garnish wine glasses with cinnamon around the rim, cinnamon sticks and few apple slices then fill each glass.

Caprese bites

  • 1 container cherry tomatoes (or other small tomatoes)

  • fresh basil

  • 1 container small mozzarella balls (or chop 1 large ball into bite size pieces)

  • 1 container toothpicks

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • balsamic vinegar

  • salt and pepper to taste

Rinse your tomatoes, mozzarella balls and basil. Then grab your toothpicks and start assembling. Start with a mozzarella ball, then add basil and finish with tomato. Once assembled, put on a serving plate or bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Prosciutto wrapped asparagus

  • 12 spears fresh asparagus

  • 12 slices prosciutto

Preheat the oven to 450°F and wrap each asparagus spear with one slice of prosciutto. Arrange each spear in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for about 15min, until the spears are tender.

Holiday Cranberry Chicken
Adapted from this original recipe.


  • 2.5 lbs. chicken breast

  • fresh thyme

  • 1 tsp Italian herbs

  • ⅓ cup to ½ cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


  • ⅓ cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

  • ¼ tsp sea salt

  • ¼ tsp black pepper

  • 1 tsp minced garlic (approx. 2 garlic cloves)

Clean your chicken then place in a roasting or baking dish. Set aside. Next prepare your marinade. Blend all the ingredients listed in the Marinade in a food processor or blender until liquified and smooth. Pour this over the chicken breast, coating evenly. Cover and place in the fridge to marinade for 30 minutes or up to 24 hrs. Once marinated, preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove chicken from the fridge. Add your extra ⅓ to ½ cup cranberries, thyme, and Italian herbs to the dish. Spread it out evenly on and around the chicken. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove and flip over each breast. Then brush each chicken breast with the maple syrup/balsamic vinegar combo. Add more seasoning (like dried herbs, salt, pepper) to the top if desired. If using fresh herbs, wait to add until after broil. Broil for about 2-4 minutes or until the skin is crispy and chicken is cooked evenly inside. After thoroughly cooked, remove from the oven. Spoon the sauce from the pan onto each chicken breast and a pinch of black pepper or cracked pepper. Serve with the roasted cranberries on top and any extra fresh herbs desired.

Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 jar Smucker’s Sugar Free Preserves, any flavor

  • 1-12-oz bag whole fresh cranberries

  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon

  • Truvia or Splenda (optional)

Empty preserves into a heavy saucepan and heat over medium low for 3 to 4 minutes until they soften and melt. Add cranberries and cinnamon; stirring constantly while mixture comes to a boil; cook until berries begin to pop. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce is glossy and thick. Crush some of the berries against the side of the pot with your wooden spoon. Stir in Truvia or Splenda to taste and cook 5 more minutes before removing from heat to cool. For a smooth sauce, place in a blender and pass through a wire strainer using a rubber spatula. Cover and chill before serving.