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Navigating The Holiday Season As A Plant-Based Athlete

Ah the holidays…they can be celebratory for some, stressful for others, but one thing we know is that food tends to play a star role in these gatherings. If you’re worried about how you can maintain your healthy, plant-based diet during the holiday season you’re not alone! As with many things in life, success is in the preparation. Whether you’re traveling or staying close to home it tends to be a busy time for many so having a plan in place will ensure you can enjoy your time with others and make good choices! Here are some tips on how to stay the course through the holidays.

Make a fun and healthy dish to share. If you’re attending a family dinner or a party and you’re worried that your only options will be the side salad or the bowl of tortilla chips, bring something that you and the other guests can enjoy. It can be as simple as a fresh vegetable tray with hummus or showcase how delicious vegan food can be by bringing a side dish. If there’s a traditional family favorite that you don’t want to miss out on – veganize it!  

When I first went vegan the options at my family dinner were extremely limited. I quickly learned that I needed to prepare my own meal to enjoy dinner with the family. It had to be something simple because I had to wrestle for space and time in an already busy kitchen! Wanting to expand my options, I started including a veggie-heavy side dish and was happy to see other family members enjoying this option as well. That led to me politely suggesting that some of the vegetable sides be prepared without butter (I’m from PA, so butter is in everything). I also brought a tub of plant-based butter to be used in its place when necessary. No one even noticed the difference.

Introducing new dishes at my family holiday dinners has evolved over the years and now my stepmom is excited to prepare a vegan main dish for me – any everyone at the table is excited to try it! It’s always so popular that I usually don’t get any leftovers which is fine by me – I have a backup plan for the next day and I’m happy to see my family enjoying vegan food. I’m also happy to say that most of the dishes at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner are now vegan thanks to my influence. This did not happen overnight though so be patient with your family but always be prepared!

Keep exercise on the menu. Maintaining your training routine throughout the holidays will help you stick with healthy eating as well. When I’m visiting family over the holidays I like to keep a morning run scheduled. Without taking too much time away from others it gives me some peaceful alone time while enjoying some fresh air. It also helps me to avoid poor eating decisions! If I have a run scheduled in the morning I won’t indulge in that second glass of wine the night before or eat too many of those vegan cookies I brought to share. That morning run will leave me energized and positive so that I stay on track the rest of the day and continue to make healthy choices.  

Prepare ahead so that your time can be spent with loved ones. Another way to stay on track with your healthy plant-based eating is to make sure you have plenty of quick and easy nourishing meals available. It may be tempting to have a slice of that leftover vegan pumpkin pie for breakfast, so to avoid that trap prepare some overnight oats the night before so you have a healthy alternative ready to eat in the morning. You can still enjoy seasonal flavors by making these pumpkin pie overnight oats!

What you need:

  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • ½ Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jar, mix well, cover & refrigerate overnight. You can also add toppings in the morning such as pepitas & dried cranberries.

Instead of focusing my time meal prepping for myself during the holidays I’ll let Knifehand Nutrition keep me well-fed with their Thanksgiving Holiday Survival Kit. With 2 days of travel and 2 days visiting family the 4 course meal kit will ensure I can still eat delicious healthy meals without spending much time in the kitchen. Whether it’s hanging out with the family the day after Thanksgiving or arriving home after a long day of travel I’ll have meals at the ready. It’s the perfect option if you’re like me and want to have your nutrition plan in place!

Don’t stress about the holidays – Knifehand Nutrition is here for you!

Laura Kline

Laura Kline is a World-Champion Duathlete & Triathlete, participating in competitions and ultra-marathons across the globe. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Laura took her love of sports with her to Syracuse University where she earned her B.A. in Sociology and Psychology before deciding to make her home there in the central New York.

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