Healthy Holiday Eating Tips and Tricks

Quality time with family and friends, holiday parties, a break from school stress, and LOTS of quality food - that’s what the holidays are all about, right? Between grandma’s famous apple pie, hot cocoa with your BFF, and holiday cookies at every turn, many of us are feeling anxious about if it's possible to join in the festivities without going “haywire during the holidays.” Don’t fret! Just follow these 10 tips to keep yourself (and your waistband) in check over winter break.

  • Plan for Leftovers
    • Bring a reusable storage container to holiday get-togethers so you can pack up extras. Knowing you have more for later can help prevent overeating in the moment. Be sure to always check with your host first.
  • Warm-Up for the Main Event
    • Make a point to eat breakfast and snacks leading up to parties and big dinners to help control your appetite. Choosing balanced meals and snacks that contain enough fiber and protein can help to keep you more full and satisfied throughout the day.
  • Think Smaller
    • When it comes to plates, size matters! When possible, choose a smaller plate. This can help you to be more satisfied with fewer calories. Choose a smaller plate and load it up with veggies first to help with portion control.
  • Veg Out
    • No, we don’t mean binging your favorite Netflix show from the sofa (though there’s nothing wrong with a little of that either), we mean vegetables! Try to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need and keep extra calories at bay.
  • Be Mindful
    • Rather than restrict the foods you love, choose to enjoy them in moderation. Savor your favorites by engaging all of your senses.
  • Slow Your Roll
    • Taking time to visit with your loved ones between bites can help to prevent eating more than you’d like. Try setting down your fork in between bites to remind you to slow down.
  • Drink Smarter
    • If you’re of age and getting into the holiday “spirits,” try having a glass of water between drinks. Holiday drinks like eggnog are often loaded with calories, so try choosing drinks that are lower in sugar. Wine or your favorite spirit mixed with club soda are smarter choices.
  • Location, Location, Location!
    • Finding the perfect location isn’t just for real estate anymore – it applies to parties too! If you’re at a party with a food buffet, try making your plate and then moving away from the buffet. This can help to reduce grazing and overeating during the party.
  • Get Moving
    • Find ways to stay active over the holiday break. If you don’t have access to a gym over the holidays, try some bodyweight exercises. Remember that every step counts, and the little things can really add up - parking farther from the store, taking the stairs when possible, even skipping commercials and moving around before your TV show restarts all add to your daily move goal!
  • Ditch the Guilt
    • The holidays can be tough, and overindulging happens. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up if you eat more than you planned to - just get back on track at your next meal. Remember, consistency is key. It takes more than one indulgent meal to gain significant weight, just like it takes more than one healthful meal to lose significant weight.

Are you hosting the holidays this year? Many of our favorite dishes can be loaded with extra calories, saturated fat, and sugar. Try some of these simple swaps to make your holiday favorites more nutritious:

  • Replace the butter in mashed potatoes with olive oil and greek yogurt using this recipe. Not only will this switch reduce the saturated fat, but it will add extra protein while keeping the dish fluffy and creamy.
  • Try a wild and brown rice-based stuffing. These grains have more fiber than many traditional bread stuffing recipes, which will keep you fuller longer. To increase protein and heart-healthy fats, you can also add nuts, like this wild-rice-pecan stuffing.
  • Using 2 egg-whites in place of 1 whole egg will reduce dietary cholesterol while still keeping your baked goods nice and fluffy.


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Food and Nutrition.