Healthy Holiday Eating


Christmas, New Year’s Eve and anything in between are times of joy, togetherness and overall positive emotions and experiences to share with friends and families.  Food is of course, a central component of all the excitement of the holidays.  One can expect to be surrounded by lots of options—which is absolutely a good thing—but one can also expect lots of high fat, sugar and calorie foods like sweets, alcohol—alcohol has more calories per gram than carbohydrates and proteins—and oversized portions.

All these delicious foods in such abundance may trigger so much stress and increased eating even for the most disciplined eater! However, there are many things one can do to avoid overeating but most important to not feel guilty about food and still be able to enjoy it during the holidays. 

Mental Blocks

Think about mental blocks before the situation arises.  For example, some of the most common mental block include : “I only get this once a year,” or I’ll start eating better tomorrow.” Sadly, these are just blocks that prevent you from exercising mindful eating and make you more prone to overdo it.  To counteract these blocks always remember that you are in control.  Have something healthy to eat before heading to any gathering so you’re not excessively hungry and more prone to indulge.  Also, offer to bring a healthy dish or if you’re cooking, look for non-starchy side dishes—like salads, broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus to add to the menu. 

Socialize and make conversation away from food. Realize that your efforts make a huge difference everyday.

Be Prepared

These are just suggestions that can help you feeling good about your food choices.

Overdo it on fruits and veggies.  Most gatherings and parties will offer a crudité platter as appetizers.  Take advantage of that!

Think about revamping classic recipes for healthier versions.   Examples are:

Classic yellow rice ………………………..yellow with vegetables pilaf
Lettuce and tomato salad ………………watercress, spinach with pear salad
Fried empanadas …………………………Baked empanadas
Potato salad dressed with mayo …….Potato salad with peas, carrots dressed with equal
parts of non-fat Greek yogurt and mayonnaise.
Potato chips ………………………………..low-sodium pita chips with hummus
Classic ground meat lasagna …………Add a variety of vegetables or substitute the pasta for
eggplant and always look for 90 to 95% lean meat.

Portion Size

It is important to keep in mind that even too much a ‘good thing’ can turn out to be negative.  This is where portion size is so crucial.  Try to always use small plates for serving.  This way you’re less likely to pile up too much food at once. 


Suellen is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in the Rochester, NY area.  Connect with her at or follow her on Instagram at @Suellen_Pineda

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