Holiday Survival Tips from a Dietitian

The holidays. One of my favourite times of the year to get together with family and eat all the traditional, wonderful food. It brings back memories of Christmas baking, my grandmother’s raspberry marshmallow salad, tasting my grandpa’s newest batch of local fruit wine, and making food with my mother. It’s safe to say that food is often a focal point of the holidays! There are many ways that you can enjoy get togethers and still feel confident that you aren’t losing track of your healthy living goals.


1) Be conscious of those portions sizes. At the holidays, it is often not what you eat; but rather, how much you eat that can lead to over indulging. Be in the moment and enjoy the food that you often get to eat only once a year! On the flip side, don’t restrict yourself from any foods. Eat a small portion of shortbread or pie and enjoy it! Or go all out if you wish, but know that you may have to make compromises down the road to stay with your goals.

2) When consuming holiday beverages, make health and road safety a priority. Try lower fat eggnogs, non-alcoholic mulled wine, sparkling water, mint, and cranberry juice spritzers, or a small amount of baileys in your coffee. Drink alcohol in moderation and ensure you are having a glass of water with a slice of lemon or lime in between your drinks.

3) Play with substitutions and serve a healthier recipe! Add pulses to your turkey stuffing, skip the butter in the mashed potatoes, have fresh fruit as a part of dessert! Skip the chips and creamy dips for fresh vegetables such as cucumber sticks, carrot curls, red and green peppers with a low fat dip like hummus or greek yogurt.

4) Curb your hunger before the party by having a healthy snack an hour before you go. Yogurt and fruit or peanut butter and a rice cake are good options that will reduce hunger and help you make healthier choices once there.

5) Stop when you are no longer hungry. This may be the hardest one to do when all the wonderful food is still in front of you! Eat slowly and trust your body to tell you once you have had enough. Put your plate away or go a step further, and help with dishes.

6) Serve food on a separate table from where everyone is eating. You are less likely to grab seconds or nibble once you are done if the food is not in front of you.

7) Don’t skip a meal to allow for extra calories later in the day. This will work against you! You will be so hungry by the time you get to said meal that you are more likely to overindulge. Plan smaller, lighter meals that contain a variety of nutrients to allow for a little extra at the meal you are most looking forward to.

8) Get moving! Walk around the room instead of sitting or take a winter stroll with the kids after dinner. Any sort of movement will help with your energy and fight off that post-turkey need for a nap.

Above all, enjoy the holiday season! Be mindful and plan ahead so you can still enjoy all your favourite treats and traditions without compromising your healthy living goals.