Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

11/12/14 James Winston

The holiday season is a wonderful time to enjoy the foods you love with the people that you love. It is a time to make some of your favorite recipes and share them with family and friends. It is also in good health to approach the holidays with a plan in place to make healthy choices throughout the holiday season. Here are some tips to help you make healthy food choices and still enjoy the foods that you love.

  1. Enjoy the holiday foods you love. What this also means is avoid the foods that you do not love. For example if you love mashed potatoes and gravy, but do not love stuffing then skip the stuffing. Use this same principle for all of your holiday food choices. Eat the foods you enjoy and skip the foods you do not enjoy as much.
  2. Pay attention to the portion sizes of the foods you are eating. A good rule of thumb is that your fist is approximately ½-1 cup serving of food, and the palm of your hand is approximately 3-4 ounces of meat. You can use this guide when filling your plate
  3. Use smaller plates, which will force you to take smaller portions.
  4. Be mindful of sauces, gravies, and other calorie rich foods that have minimal nutritional value and are full of calories and fat. As with tip #1, skip the calorie rich sauces and gravies if you do not love them. If you do enjoy the sauces and/or gravy, be mindful of your serving and try to stick with 1-2 tablespoons at the most.
  5. Be mindful of people who may lovingly try to sabotage your healthy efforts by encouraging you to eat more or try their dish. Politely say, “No thank you, but thank you for offering.”
  6. Identify “safe” people who will help you to make healthy food choices.
  7. Enjoy your holiday foods on the specific holiday and return to your healthy eating plan the next day.
  8. The holidays are a time to celebrate and be with the ones you love. Engage in wonderful conversations with your loved ones and enjoy the company as much as you enjoy the food.
  9. Be mindful of your dessert portions. Choose your favorite dessert and enjoy each and every bite.
  10. Eat your food slowly. It takes 20 minutes for the message to get from your brain to your stomach that you are full. If after your first plate of food you still feel hungry, give yourself 10-20 minutes before going back for seconds. If after 20 minutes you are still hungry, go back for 1-2 of your favorite items.
  11. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Sometimes we think we are hungry when we actually are thirsty.
  12. If you are bringing a dish to pass, bring a healthier option such as a tossed salad with a light dressing, bring mashed potatoes made with chicken stock, or possibly a crust less pumpkin pie.
  13. Do not neglect physical activity during the holiday season. Go for walks, and do other fun activities to keep you active and healthy.
  14. Be mindful of your emotions throughout the holiday season. Often times the holidays are stressful and chaotic. We may use food as a way to numb the intense feelings. Before eating your holiday meal, be mindful of how you are feeling. Take appropriate steps to manage your feelings so you are not using foods as a way to manage uncomfortable feelings.
  15. See the recipes provided for potential healthy options to bring. has wonderful healthy options for your holiday meal.

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