The holidays are a time to give thanks, be with friends and family, and get some much-needed time away from work. All this celebration often comes with drinks, delicious treats, and oversized meals with loved ones.

If you’re looking forward to the big feast, but find yourself dreading the post-holiday bloat, stomach pains, and energy slump, we’ve got you covered.

From what to eat and what workouts will be most effective, this comprehensive guide takes the guesswork out of how to feel your best the day before, of, and after a holiday feast.

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Today is all about hydrating, maintaining your regular diet, and choosing foods that make your body feel good. It’s also a good day to include a moderate-intensity workout followed by a series of yoga poses.

What to eat and drink today

Drink plenty of fluids

Make sure to drink lots of water and avoid excess alcohol. Since the amount of water you need in a day depends on a variety of factors, many experts will tell you to simply drink water when you’re thirsty and avoid beverages with caffeine, sugar, and artificial sweeteners.

Stick with what your body knows

Exercise physiologist and nutritionist, Rachel Straub, MS, CSCS, says to choose wholesome foods that you know your body can handle and easily digest.

While this is different for everyone, Straub says some foods that are typically easy on your system include:

  • protein-based smoothies
  • eggs
  • salads with grilled chicken
  • sandwiches
  • fruits and veggies

Maintain your regular food intake

Starving yourself before the big event is not the answer.

“Most people make the mistake of drastically cutting calories before a celebration,” says certified personal trainer, Katie Dunlop. This can lead to overeating because you end up hungry and wanting to eat more.

Try a pumpkin smoothie for breakfast

Dunlop recommends sipping on a smoothie with pumpkin for breakfast, since it’s loaded with nutrients and antioxidants to keep you healthy during this stressful time. It’s also high in fiber to keep your digestion on point and keep you feeling fuller longer.

What to do today

Choose a moderate-intensity workout

It’s essential to balance out strength training and cardio training in the days leading up to an event. Dunlop says as our schedules get packed and our stress levels go up, you’ll want to stick to your normal routine.

To be efficient, consider doing a full-body workout with strength moves and cardio bursts in between sets, also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Get moving now: The best 20-minute workout videos.

Pre-feast yoga routine

Yoga instructor Claire Grieve says she always does a fiery, energetic flow to get her metabolism moving the day before a big feast.

Get moving now: We suggest these poses for bloating or these for digestion. Or try this energy yoga practice video taught by Yoga with Adriene.

Find a partner

The holidays give you an excellent opportunity to gather your crew and exercise together. This helps avoid the temptation to put your workouts on the back burner in order to spend time with loved ones.

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Before we dive into your game plan for the feast day, it’s important to understand why we feel so sluggish and bloated after a large feast.

Large amounts of sodium can make you feel bloated, and digesting more than your typical meal size can take a lot of energy — leading to fatigue.

You’re also likely to experience a sugar high… then energy crash, if you’re reaching for holiday desserts.

The good news is, you can maintain some sense of balance in your body and still enjoy your favorite holiday foods.

What to eat and drink today

Drink 2-3 liters of water

Not only will water fill you up, but dehydration can get confused as hunger, according to Gelina Berg, RD.

Down a glass or two during the hours leading up to the meal — and aim for 2-3 liters total today.

“You’re likely going to be having more salt than usual, especially if you’re not the one cooking, so kick that water intake up to combat the holiday bloat,” she explains.

Eat a protein-rich breakfast

Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, recommends starting your day with a protein-rich meal to feel fuller for longer.

She suggests scrambled eggs with tomato and mushroom and a side of fruit, or a tofu scramble with mushrooms, garlic, and onion with a side of greens.

Eat a protein and non-starchy vegetable for lunch

Feller recommends a green salad with chickpeas, avocado, seeds, and colorful veggies (tomato, bell pepper, radish, etc.).

A high-protein and low-carb lunch will help you avoid heading into the big meal feeling extra hungry.

Fill your feast plate with veggies

Yes, you can still load up on all of your favorite feast-day dishes, but Berg says to also focus on loading up on veggies.

“Fill up half your plate with veggies and start eating them first (when your appetite is highest) since they’ll taste the most appealing when you’re hungrier,” she adds. Asparagus, carrots, green beans, and sweet potatoes are all a great choice.

What to do today

Do LISS (low-intensity steady state cardio) in the morning

Go for a long walk, hike, or jog. It’s a great way to clear your head before the hustle and bustle of the day. Plus, you can make it a family event and exercise with a partner or a group.

Set yourself up for an easy-to-access 15-minute HIIT workout

Today is all about convenience. That’s why Genova recommends a bodyweight workout at home or jogging around the block.

“Never feel pressure to spend copious amounts of time creating the workout to be a burden. Instead, use the HIIT technique to incorporate less rest, full-body movements, and high heart rate to work smarter, not longer,” he says.

Not into HIIT? Here are other ideas for fat-burning workouts on feast day.

Yoga to cultivate gratitude

Holidays are about giving thanks, so why not start your day with a yoga flow to cultivate gratitude?

Try heart openers on the day of the big feast, such as downward facing dog, camel, and wild thing.

Get moving now: Gentle gratitude yoga by Yoga with Adriene

Take a walk after the big meal

Maintain your energy for family time and aid digestion with a gentle post-meal walk.

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When you wake up today, there’s a good chance your body may feel a bit sluggish and bloated. That’s why the focus for the post-feast day is on hydrating, eating whole foods, and moving your body.

What to eat and drink today

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Your body needs fluids, but the key is to hydrate with non-caffeinated, no added sugar, and no artificially sweetened beverages.

Drink herbal teas

Sip on herbal teas with soothing properties like ginger, turmeric, chamomile, and mint.

Choose your food wisely

Fill your plates with non-starchy vegetables, especially antioxidant-rich leafy greens. And, don’t skip meals!

What to do today

Do a 20-minute workout

“All you need is 20 minutes, and you’ll be scorching calories and sweating it out like nobody’s business,” says Dunlop. Plus, a quick workout is easier to get in if you’re short on time (hello, Black Friday!).

Get moving now: Try out a workout using one of our favorite exercise apps.

Resume your regular exercise program

If you feel up to it, Straub says it’s ok to resume your regular exercise routine. But if you’re feeling lethargic, aim for a simple walk.

Yoga for digestion

On the day after the big feast, Grieve says you’ll want to do some poses to stimulate your digestive system. Seated twist, twisted chair, and camel with all help relieve any post-feast digestive issues.

It may take several days for your body to bounce back from holiday festivities. Be kind to yourself and your body during this time.

Reducing bloating and feeling your physical best is a combination of diet and exercise.

Get cooking with these recipes for a bloated gut.

Keep up the cardio and yoga work you started over the previous three days with this routine. Ease back into your regular fitness routine. Go for a walk — even while holiday shopping — or find other ways to add in more joyful movement.


Sara Lindberg, BS, MEd, is a freelance health and fitness writer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in counseling. She’s spent her life educating people on the importance of health, wellness, mindset, and mental health. She specializes in the mind-body connection, with a focus on how our mental and emotional well-being impact our physical fitness and health.