Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

Published: Friday, December 24, 2021
Registered Dietitian, The Bariatric Weight Loss Center at NGMC

There is no doubt that eating healthy during the holidays is a challenge. For around six full weeks per year, we are exposed to a lot more foods and beverages than we typically are during the rest of the year. To make things more difficult, holiday food is delicious! The holidays can also be a very stressful and emotional time which leads to an increase in appetite and desire to eat high-calorie foods.  

How can we enjoy traditional holiday foods while still taking care of our health? We can start by implementing some of the tips below.  

Eat a minimum of three meals a day.

Eating three meals a day will help prevent excessive hunger during the day, help prevent food cravings and provide adequate energy to get through the busy days during the holidays.  

Do not skip meals. 

Skipping meals can lead to a dramatic increase in our hunger levels. This can make it very challenging to practice portion control and have good judgment over food selections.  

Do not deprive yourselves of your favorite foods. 

Don’t feel like you can’t eat your favorite dishes. It’s best to start by adding fruits and vegetables next to some of your favorite foods. Slow down and enjoy every bite.

Listen to what your stomach tells you.

Our stomachs let us know when we feel just satisfied, very satisfied, full and overly stuffed. Try to stop eating when you feel either just satisfied or very satisfied.   

Bring a healthy side dish to gatherings. 

Some options include roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar or cauliflower mashed potatoes. 

Use healthy food substitutes

When it’s your turn to bring a dish, take a traditional Holiday recipe and make it healthier by using healthier ingredients to substitute. You can reduce fat and calories without changing the taste of your recipe.

  • Cut down on cholesterol by replacing one egg with two egg whites
  • Increase your fiber by using whole wheat flour over all-purpose flour
  • Reduce calories by substituting oil, margarine, or butter to applesauce
  • To cut down calories and saturated fats, use fat-free versions of creamy ingredients reduce calories without compromising flavor by using reduced-fat cheeses

Avoid or limit alcoholic beverages. 

Intake of alcohol can increase your appetite and often comes with a lot of added sugars and calories.  

Avoid temptation when possible. 

Be assertive when saying no to unhealthy foods or beverages offered during gatherings.  

Stay active

Staying active during the Holidays helps reduce stress and improve mood. An improved mood can help you make better food choices during the holidays. Staying active during the Holidays can also become a family activity.

  • Go on a walk/run
  • Chip in with chores
  • Find some family-friendly workouts
  • Play a game like flag football, kickball, or frisbiee
  • Dance!

Find hobbies to practice at home. 

Ideas include crocheting, coloring, reading, and puzzles. These can help distract the mind from stress or boredom and help prevent unnecessary snacking.   

Most importantly, enjoy the holidays! It’s OKAY to have some treats while you’re celebrating. The key is to get right back into your healthy habits. Enjoy time connecting with family and friends.