How can I eat healthy during the holidays?

For healthy eating during the holidays, try the following:
  • Choose mostly plants. Crowd out the meat. If you have a plate that is filled with vegetables and whole grains and beautiful herbs and spices, you're not going to even miss the meat.
  • Limit sugar and sugary foods because those are mostly empty calories.
  • Choose your indulgences carefully. If you have in front of you four or five different options for dessert, choose one or two and really enjoy those.
  • Eat mindfully. Don't mindlessly nibble. Be in the moment.
  • Chew your food and enjoy the flavors.
  • Pack your own food wherever possible. When traveling, airports and convenience stores are notorious for having less-than-healthy food.
  • Keep trigger foods out of sight. Studies show having a candy jar on your desk means you're going to eat significantly more than if the candy jar is in the other room on someone else's desk.
  • Walk or talk. If you're eating, keep your hands busy, walk around with someone, talk with someone, don't just stand at the table and nibble away. 
  • Stay active. That's one of the most important things that you can do this time of year.
Here are a few tips to help you eat healthier during the holidays:
  • Use olive oil and herbs instead of cream or cheese in veggie dishes.
  • Make green bean casserole with low-fat or dairy-free sour cream.
  • Replace sausage, white bread and butter in stuffing with nuts, whole grains and broth or water (if you can't give up the sausage, opt for the turkey or chicken version).
  • Choose sweet potatoes with cinnamon and spices (maybe add a drizzle of agave nectar) over scalloped white ones with butter and cream.
Frances Largeman-Roth, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Eating healthy during the holiday season can be difficult, but there are things you can do to stay on track. Watch registered dietician Frances Largeman-Roth share her favorite tips to avoid overindulging and gaining weight over the holidays.

Brooke Randolph
Marriage & Family Therapy
The decorations, the carols, the people, and even the food are all important parts of connecting to and creating holiday memories. Of all times, you are most likely to feel denied and even sad if you do not partake in certain special foods.

Some of your normal holiday fare may be able to be excluded if it does not have any personal meaning or attachment for you. Shrimp cocktail is a Christmas tradition in my family, but I have never eaten seafood so it has never mattered to me. You may be able to alter some of the family recipes to make them more acceptable in your meal plan. Everyone enjoyed the cranberry sauce I made from all fresh ingredients for Thanksgiving, even though it was not what we normally have at family gatherings.

However, Grandma is not as likely to change the recipe she has used for years. If it is a special food for you, you can still partake in appropriate portions. You do not have to eat even an entire piece to enjoy your favorite pie. Savor and focus on what you are eating. If my grandmother has made baklava I will have some, but I will not have seconds or thirds. Instead I will drink more water while I eat and coffee when I have had enough.

I can distract myself playing with the children running around the house or engaging the teens in conversation. If you allow yourself to sample, you will not be distracted by the forbidden treats in the kitchen, you can relax, focus on loved ones, and fully enjoy your holiday moments.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.