How To Navigate Fasting Periods During Holiday Seasons: 7 Helpful Tips

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How To Navigate Fasting Periods During Holiday Seasons

As the holiday season approaches, you may contemplate how to maintain your fasting routines amid the festive foods and celebrations. 

Intermittent fasting, celebrated for its potential health benefits, ranging from weight management to improved metabolic health, holds a special place during this time1,2.

Despite the temptation of indulgence, your commitment to sustaining fasting practices reflects a dedication to your physical health and personal wellness.

However, navigating fasting during the holiday season presents unique challenges requiring thoughtful consideration and strategic planning.

Let’s explore different strategies on how to navigate fasting periods during holiday seasons, acknowledging the significance of sustaining these routines for physical and mental health.

Challenges Of Fasting During Holidays

During the holidays, temptations come in many forms, not just food. Such as:

Temptations of holiday feasts and treats.

You’ll likely encounter many tempting foods and treats during the holiday season at every turn. The array of culinary delights can significantly challenge your fasting goals, from decadent desserts to savory dishes. 

Research indicates that exposure to highly palatable foods, such as those commonly found during feasts, can trigger overeating and weight gain and greatly affect your fasting during holidays3.

A study found that individuals exposed to appetizing food cues, such as images of holiday treats, exhibited increased cravings and consumption of high-calorie foods. This study highlights the powerful influence of food environments on eating behavior, especially during celebration4.

Social pressures and expectations.

Whether at family gatherings, office parties, or festive dinners with friends, you may encounter social pressures and expectations to partake in traditional holiday meals.

The research examined the influence of social norms on eating behavior and found that individuals often conform to the eating habits of those around them, especially in social settings5.

This phenomenon, known as social facilitation, can make it challenging to adhere to your intermittent fasting schedule when surrounded by others indulging in holiday treats.

The emotional impact of not participating in traditional holiday meals.

For health-conscious people, the holiday season is a time for feasting and for cherished traditions and shared meals with loved ones. Choosing to abstain from traditional holiday meals as part of your fasting regimen may evoke sadness, isolation, or FOMO (fear of missing out).

A study explored the emotional implications of food-related decisions. Individuals often experience guilt or regret when they deviate from their dietary goals, especially during special occasions like holidays. The emotional impact of not participating in traditional holiday meals can undermine your resolve to stick to your intermittent fasting schedule and lead to feelings of deprivation6.

How To Navigate Fasting Periods During Holiday Seasons

Navigating fasting during the holidays can be daunting, but with the right strategies, you can maintain successful intermittent fasting routines while still enjoying the festive spirit.

Balancing intermittent fasting schedules with holiday festivities requires careful planning and mindfulness such as:

1. Plan and set realistic goals.

Before the festive season begins, it’s essential to plan and establish realistic goals for your intermittent fasting journey. Research has consistently shown that goal-setting is crucial in achieving success with intermittent fasting7.

By defining clear objectives and outlining a structured eating window, you can navigate holiday temptations while staying committed to your healthy diet and weight management goals.

2. Communicate your fasting goals with friends and family.

Open communication with friends and family members about your intermittent fasting goals is critical to garnering support during the festive season8.

By sharing your intentions regarding intermittent fasting and the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, you can enlist encouragement and understanding from your loved ones, fostering a supportive environment conducive to success.

3. Focus on the social aspect of gatherings rather than food intake.

Shift your focus during holiday gatherings from food-centric activities to social interactions and meaningful connections. Engaging in quality conversations and festive activities can enhance your enjoyment of the season without compromising your intermittent fasting routine.

Research suggests that fostering social bonds promotes a natural balance in eating behaviors, allowing you to stay true to your goals while celebrating with loved ones9.

4. Practice mindfulness and self-compassion.

Incorporate mindfulness and self-compassion into your intermittent fasting journey to navigate the ups and downs of the festive season with grace.

Research indicates mindfulness-based practices can promote healthier eating habits and reduce emotional eating tendencies10.

By cultivating awareness of your body’s cues and treating yourself with kindness, you can stay grounded in your commitment to successful intermittent fasting and a healthy diet.

5. Embrace flexibility in fasting schedules.

Recognize the importance of flexibility in your intermittent fasting schedule, especially during the festive season. While maintaining a consistent eating window is beneficial, allowing for adjustments when necessary can support adherence to your dietary goals.

Research suggests that flexible dietary approaches contribute to long-term success in weight management11, emphasizing the importance of finding a natural balance that works for you during holiday celebrations.

6. Practice moderation and mindful eating during non-fasting periods.

To support your intermittent fasting goals, prioritize moderation and mindful eating during non-fasting periods. Incorporating healthy fats and nutrient-dense foods into your diet can help maintain a natural balance and support overall well-being.

Ensure you’re mindful of your calorie intake, which will positively impact your weight loss journey. Consume lean protein and non-starchy vegetables, reduce refined carbs, enjoy black coffee, and stay hydrated. These simple steps will effectively reduce your hunger pangs, which will help you lose weight.

Research indicates that mindful eating promotes more nutritious food choices and prevents overeating12. It allows you to enjoy festive meals while staying aware of your body’s needs.

7. Be forgiving of yourself for occasional deviations from fasting routines.

Finally, practice self-compassion and forgiveness if you occasionally deviate from your intermittent fasting routine during the festive season.

Research suggests self-compassion is associated with resilience and a positive attitude toward behavior change13

By recognizing that setbacks are a natural part of the journey and refocusing on your goals with renewed determination, you can confidently and gracefully navigate the challenges of the holiday season.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, managing your body weight during the holidays involves mindful eating and staying active. You can maintain a healthy balance by making minor adjustments to your holiday routine, such as prioritizing nutritious foods and incorporating physical activity into your day. 

Remember, undoing your progress only takes a few hours of indulgence, so staying mindful is critical. While holiday feasts may seem overwhelming, you can enjoy the festivities with a little planning and moderation without derailing your health goals. After all, it’s about enjoying the season and taking care of yourself in the process. So go ahead, savor the moments, and keep yourself in mind as you celebrate.


1 Klempel MC, Kroeger CM, Varady KA. Alternate day fasting (ADF) with a high-fat diet produces similar weight loss and cardio-protection as ADF with a low-fat diet. Metabolism. 2013 Jan;62(1):137-43. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2012.07.002. Epub 2012 Aug 11. PMID: 22889512.

2 Varady KA. Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss? Obes Rev. 2011 Jul;12(7):e593-601. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00873.x. Epub 2011 Mar 17. PMID: 21410865.

3 Pitt E, Gallegos D, Comans T, Cameron C, Thornton L. Exploring the influence of local food environments on food behaviours: a systematic review of qualitative literature. Public Health Nutrition. 2017;20(13):2393-2405. doi:10.1017/S1368980017001069

4 Shahriari, E., Torres, I. M., Zúñiga, M. A., & Alfayez, N. (2019, September 16). Picture this: the role of mental imagery in induction of food craving – a theoretical framework based on the elaborated intrusion theory. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 37(1), 31–42. https://doi.org/10.1108/jcm-02-2018-2553

5 Flannery, O., Harris, K., & Kenny, U. A. (2020). An Exploration into the Impact of Social Networking Site (SNS) Use on Body Image and Eating Behavior of Physically Active Men. The Journal of Men’s Studies. https://doi.org/10.1177/1060826520913264

6 Xu, J., & Schwarz, N. (2009). Do We Really Need a Reason to Indulge? Journal of Marketing Research, 46(1), 25-36. https://doi.org/10.1509/jmkr.46.1.25

7 Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002, September). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57(9), 705–717. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066x.57.9.705

8 Wing RR, Jeffery RW. Benefits of recruiting participants with friends and increasing social support for weight loss and maintenance. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1999 Feb;67(1):132-8. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.67.1.132. PMID: 10028217.

9 Umberson D, Montez JK. Social relationships and health: a flashpoint for health policy. J Health Soc Behav. 2010;51 Suppl:S54-66. doi: 10.1177/0022146510383501. PMID: 20943583; PMCID: PMC3150158.

10 O’Reilly GA, Cook L, Spruijt-Metz D, Black DS. Mindfulness-based interventions for obesity-related eating behaviours: a literature review. Obes Rev. 2014 Jun;15(6):453-61. doi: 10.1111/obr.12156. Epub 2014 Mar 18. PMID: 24636206; PMCID: PMC4046117.

11 Stewart TM, Williamson DA, White MA. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. 2002 Feb;38(1):39-44. doi: 10.1006/appe.2001.0445. PMID: 11883916.

12 Kristeller JL, Wolever RQ. Mindfulness-based eating awareness training for treating binge eating disorder: the conceptual foundation. Eat Disord. 2011 Jan-Feb;19(1):49-61. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2011.533605. PMID: 21181579.

13 Neff, K. D., Kirkpatrick, K. L., & Rude, S. S. (2007). Self-compassion and adaptive psychological functioning. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(1), 139-154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2006.03.004


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