Healthy Holidays

How can I help my family eat healthy during the holidays?

A Answers (5)

  • ALarry Cheskin, MD, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of Johns Hopkins Medicine
    If you are having the party, only make enough of the higher calorie foods (honey glazed ham, buttery mashed potatoes, indulgent desserts, etc.) so that everyone can have one serving. Minimizing leftovers of these items can keep your family on track between celebrations. In the same vein, if you’re taking the effort to make a home-cooked meal, double the amount of vegetables (crudités, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, roasted root vegetables, and salad) and lean meats (turkey, pork loin, lean beef) so that leftovers can serve as healthful meals throughout the holiday season.
  • AMarjorie Nolan Cohn, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    The best way to ensure your family is eating healthy during the holidays (as well as the rest of the year), is to lead by example. Eat a lot of veggies; stick with lean meats or fish, and whole grains. Don’t load your kitchen up with holiday treats and sweets. Keep the meals at home basic, low in fat and calories. When dining out or at a party, make sure to avoid taking home leftovers. This way your family won’t be tempted to eat it.

  • ASarah LoBisco, Integrative Medicine, answered

    For holidays that are full of cheer, not grumpy deprivation, try the following tips:

    Ask your family what their favorite, healthiest foods and veggies are and be sure to serve this at dinner.

    Be a role model by allowing treats in moderation and filling up on foods that are healthy for your body and make you feel good.

    Encourage balancing blood sugar to prevent the "waiting for turkey dinner binge". By allowing healthy snacks and balancing each meal and snack with proteins, healthy fats, and whole grain carbohydrates, cravings and impulse control will be easier.

    • Hint: Fill up on healthy complex carbohydrates such as whole grains (rice, quinoa, millet) and root vegetables (carrots, yams, and squash) for a sweet taste and blood sugar balance at the same time. These foods are high in fiber which will increase satiety. They are also full of powerful antioxidants which supply the body with better blood sugar balance and lower inflammation at the same time!

    Make healthy versions of holiday dessert favorites by replacing nutrient depleted sugar with more balanced sweet options such as stevia, maple syrup, xylitol, or honey. Also, consider the use of gluten free options, which are less inflammatory flours and are more filling.


  • AVandana R. Sheth, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    Tips to promote healthy habits during the holidays

    • Plan meals and snacks
    • Tweak traditional family recipes to make them healthier
    • Try new recipes that are healthier and delicious
    • Incorporate more whole grains, fruits and vegetables into meals
    • Serve water in place of sugar sweetened beverages with meals
    • Encourage regular physical activity during the holidays
    • Focus on quality time spent together on non-food related activities
  • AKat Barefield, MS, RD, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered

    First, by being a good role model by filling your plate with mostly healthy items such as salads, fruits, veggies and lean protein like skinless turkey and seafood. Save ¼ of your plate for your favorite holiday item. You can help your kids by filling their plate and letting them choose their favorite dish. I’ve learned that kids pay more attention to what you do than what you say.

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