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Sports Science & Nutrition

Top 5 Ways to Eat Healthy When the Tennis Stops

Sports Science & Nutrition

By Caroline Sullivan, MS, RD, CSSD, LD MyPlate

Cool weather in Texas means you have finally made it to November...which also means that Thanksgiving is upon you and Christmas is right around the corner. Around this time of year tennis may start to take the backseat while other obligations pop up. Keeping your nutrition on track can make it easier to tame your waist line and to get back into the game once the holidays are over.

It is commonly recognized that Americans gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. There is limited research pinpointing the actual amount that adults gain, however a study in the New England Journal of Medicine from March 2000 found study participants gained just under 1 pound over the holiday season. The main problem with this small weight gain is that it was not lost when researchers followed up a year later. Gaining one pound each year can start to add up.

Follow these tips to benefit not only your fitness but also your health through the holidays.

1. Consider using MyPlate: Each time you eat, even if you are at a holiday party or family gathering. It is a simple guide developed by the United States Department of Agriculture to encourage healthy eating:

  • 1/2 plate of fruits and veggies
  • 1/4 plate of whole grains or carbohydrates
  • 1/4 plate of lean protein
  • a serving of low fat dairy on the side.

2. Don't go to holiday parties starving. The tendency is to "eat light" during the day because you know you are going to a party in the evening. You are more likely to overeat at the party if you show up hungry. Eat healthy throughout the day (following MyPlate) and enjoy the party foods in moderation.

3. Really savor your food. Don't just wolf down your food. Taste it, enjoy it. Ask yourself if you actually like it. If you only kind of like it, don't feel obligated to finish it. Choose foods that you enjoy and foods that are satisfying.

4. Snack smart. Many people waste calories on snack foods. Foods like chips, crackers, snack mix, candy are low in nutrients, easy to eat in large batches, and not very satisfying. Choose nutrient rich snacks like low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables with low fat dips, or whole grain cereals.

5. Stay hydrated. It's easy to mistake thirst for hunger, especially during the winter when you might not be as likely to drink water. Choose calorie free beverages throughout the day: water, sugar free flavored water, unsweetened iced tea. Proper hydration also helps your immune system stay strong through the winter months.

All this is easier said than done, but put a plan in place. Coming out of the holiday season feeling fit and healthy can be an incredible accomplishment! Your tennis game will thank you.


Caroline Sullivan is a Registered Dietitian and specialist in sports dietetics. She has served as a dietitian for several NCAA Division I top-25 teams including work with basketball, football, tennis, and track & field. She is a member of the USTA Texas Sports Science Committee.

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