Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

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From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, the holiday season seems to center around food. But you do not have to avoid holiday celebrations to avoid increasing your waist size. There are many ways to celebrate while still focusing on your health.

  • Focus on weight maintenance, not weight loss. The holidays are not the time to go on a diet. Focus on preventing weight gain instead. This will help you to enjoy the foods you love without feelings of guilt.
  •  Don’t rely on a New Year’s weight loss resolution. Planning on a strict diet later can cause you to binge eat today.
  •  Remember your portion sizes. Moderation is key to preventing weight gain over the holidays. By having small portions of everything, you will not feel deprived. You can eat pumpkin pie, but remember to keep it to one, small slice.
  •  Don’t skip meals. Not eating lunch will cause you to over eat at dinner. The longer you go without eating, the more you tend to eat once you do.
  •  Know what you want to eat. Take a look at the spread before you dig in. This will keep you from eating foods you do not want or need. Remember to take small portions of the foods you do want. Make one plate of food and skip seconds.
  •  Remember to stop. At parties, food is a social thing, and it is in abundance. It can be easy to continue to eat past the point of being full just because it is there. Try to avoid continuously eating by having a mint, gum, or by slowly sipping on a glass of water.
  •  Avoid liquid calories. One of the biggest calorie holders, and often the most overlooked, is alcohol. Not only is it high in calories, but it can also lower your resistance to that 2nd piece of pie. Watch out for calories in Sodas, Juices, and Eggnog. Water and diet soda are your best options for a calorie free drink.
  •  Forget Guilt. Overeating one day will not cause you to gain weight. But overeating at several occasions can. If you eat too much one night, don’t focus on it. Forgive yourself and continue with your regular eating habits.
  •  Don’t go out on an empty stomach. It might sound a little odd, but before you head out to a celebration, have a snack such as an apple or a small sandwich. This will keep you from feeling hungry and help to you eat less high fat, high sugar foods.
  •  Keep exercising. Instead of lying down after a big meal, go for a walk. Your daily routine may be “off” due to the holidays, but staying active this season will make it easier to continue exercising in the new year. This will also burn off some of those extra calories from holiday dinners.
  •  Not all holiday foods are damaging to a healthy eating plan. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, which plays a role in eye health. Turkey is a great source of protein, and removing the skin can help to lower the fat. Dried fruit, such as cranberries, cherries, and apricots, contain phytochemicals that play a role in the prevention of heart disease and cancer.
  •  Enjoy the holidays. Direct your attention to things other than food. The holidays are a time to reunite with friends and family; to share laughter and cheer, to celebrate, and to give thanks. Focus more on these other holiday pleasures, in addition to the tastes of holiday foods.

Food may be a major part of the holiday season, but it is not something to fear. The
average American gains between 5-10 pounds over the holiday season. And what’s worse, those added pounds tend to stay. If you take a few steps to ensure you eat a healthy, nutritious diet balanced out with a few holiday treats, you can make it though the end of the year without weight gain.


Information from: WebMD;; American Dietetic Association. Nutrition Education for DECEMBER 2007. Produced by Meals on Wheels,Inc. of Tarrant County by Ashley Netting, Nutrition Intern for Sherry Simon, R.D/L.D. For questions regarding nutrition education contact: Sherry Simon, R.D./L.D., Director of Nutrition Services for Meals On Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County at 817-336-0912 or email: Website: 

Posted in Nutritional Education.

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