Healthy Holiday Eating

Published in Wellness Author: Natalie Mathiowetz, RDN, LD

The Holidays are upon us. For a lot of us that means one thing—food. Out comes the sweet potato casserole with butter, brown sugar, and marshmallows; grandma’s stuffing, and we can’t forget that gooey pecan pie; not to mention all the Christmas cookies.

It takes skillful willpower to avoid all the holiday tastes and treats. Here are some helpful tips that can reduce portion sizes and decrease calories at holiday meals without giving up grandma’s pie.

Reduce portion sizes.

Reducing portion sizes is a sure way to decrease the amount of calories consumed. First, go through the line without your plate. Decide which food is worth eating. Choose a smaller plate. The eye can be deceiving; people tend to eat more using a bigger plate vs. a smaller plate.

Take your time.

Take your time eating and socialize with others before getting seconds. It takes time for the brain to receive the signals from the stomach that it is full. Decide, “Am I really hungry that I need seconds?”

Swap out high calorie ingredients.

One of the more trendy ways to reduce calories is to swap out high calorie foods/ingredients with lower calorie options. For example use greek yogurt instead sour cream or low-sodium chicken broth instead of butter in mashed potatoes.

Be mindful of your beverage.

Liquid calories sneak into most holiday gatherings through the beverage cart–eggnog, punch, soda, and alcohol. When picking your beverage, remember most standard alcoholic servings (12 oz beer, 4 oz wine) contains 100-150 calories.

Keep the calorie content in check by mixing half wine and half sparking water  to save 54 calories and 4 grams of carb (for a 5-fluid-ounce drink). To save 100 calories, choose a seasonal tea like Cinnamon Apple Spice, which has 0 calories instead of hot chocolate.

Use moderation.

Remember to be mindful and enjoy the delicious foods, in moderation.  Nothing has to be completely cut out of the food plan. By cutting desserts small, you can still enjoy a holiday favorite. 

Create a support system

Discuss food and nutrition with family and friends to create a support system. Most likely, they have similar goals.

For a complete guide to holiday eating including recipes download the Holiday Healthy Eating Guide from the American Heart Association.

Happy Holidays!