5 Dietitian Tips for Healthy Eating During the Holidays

Stressing out a little this holiday season? 

You are not alone. 

We are barely getting through traffic on the busy roads, and have yet to get the shopping done for everyone on our list.  We have kids running wild and chores to complete before guests show up at our home.  


Right alongside the Christmas carols and sparkling lights, the holidays often come with unnecessary judgement and unrealistic expectations.  This festive spirit also comes a duo of common challenges many of us face: time constraints and the tendency to overeat.

Do you have endless parties to attend, or are you cooking and cleaning up after your guests? Are you dealing with awkward family dynamics and unwelcome comments? Getting anxious with the abundance of chocolates, cookies and candy canes?  Are you feeling insecure and out of control around your body and weight? 


The holidays shouldn’t have to be a choice between savoring the moment and staying on track to our wellness goals. With a sprinkle of strategy and a dash of planning, it’s entirely possible to revel in the joys of the season while keeping our health in check.

Our local dietitians share 5 expert tips to help you manage the holiday eating and fill the rest of this year with much needed love and gratitude.  What are your strategies for healthy eating during the holidays? Share in the comments below.

1. Eat at Your Regular Meals

It can be SO tempting to “make up” for the extra calories before and/or after the holidays but this will only throw you into the never ending diet cycle of overeating and deprivation, which has fail you over and over again in the past.   Amy Chow, RD from Chow Down Nutrition says to try something different this year – stick to eating your regular meals and give yourself permission to eat.  It’s essential to balance your plate with mostly nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, but it’s also okay to enjoy your favorite holiday treats. Allowing yourself some of these foods can help satisfy cravings and prevent feelings of deprivation that might lead to overeating later.

AND if the party or the eating didn’t go as well as you planned during the holiday season, get back to your regular eating pattern as soon as possible is often the safest way out.  Keep moving forward with your health goals and do not compensate or punish yourself for what you can’t change.


2. Indulge your Food Mindfully

Michelle Shepherd, RD from Westcoast Nutrition suggests enjoying any party foods that entice you, but to stop when you feel satisfied.  Savour the food and take the time to feel the deliciousness with each bite.  Don’t forget to appreciate the love and energy your host has put into making the food! A helpful strategy to prevent arriving at an event famished is to eat a snack beforehand. A combination of fiber, healthy fats, and protein can curb hunger and help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and hangry.   Think apple with almond butter, a small Greek yogurt with berries, or a handful of nuts and vegetables. 


3. Taste the Variety

The holidays are all about peace, love and joy!  So why not apply this to our attitudes on food and eating as well. Take advantage of the variety of foods available to you this season. With many new flavors at potlucks, work parties and events, you can pick and choose foods that you don’t typically cook or eat at home and try out a variety of food.  


4. Banish Diet and Weight Talk

The latest diet trends and weight talks are bound to happen some time amongst these gatherings.  If these topics arise, to politely steer the conversation away and try not to let the comments affect you personally.  If you’re hosting the party, make this a rule to not talk about weight and diet at your home.  At these gathering events, we are here to enjoy each other’s company and these topics just never make anyone feel great (p.s. it’s never the right time to bring it up people)!

Set achievable goals for the holiday season and adopt a 80/20 mindset. Rather than aiming for weight loss, you might aim to maintain your weight. This can relieve some of the pressure and help you focus on moderation rather than restriction.

5. Be Kind and Compassionate with Yourself

Do your best to be kind and compassionate to yourself.  Set aside some quiet time to take care of yourself.  It can be sleeping in, listening to soothing music and Christmas carols, taking a break from your to-do list, or enjoying a cup of warm apple cider.  Do what you would do for your loved ones.. for your children, for your best friend, for your sister or brother, for your parents.  After all, no one deserve as much love and care as yourself this holiday season!

While it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, remember that these festivities are temporary. Soon enough, you’ll return to your usual routine and healthy eating habits, which will continue to support your long-term health goals. The holidays are a time to celebrate, to give thanks, and to indulge a little—knowing that you can return to your established healthy practices with the new year. 

Ready to transform your eating habits for good? Join our community and get personalized support from our expert dietitians.  Book a consultation and start your journey towards a healthier, happier holiday season and beyond! 

Important Phone Numbers to Reach Out for Help

Last but not least, please regularly check in on your friends and family this holiday season.  While it’s a time of joy and celebration for many, it can also be a period of loneliness and sadness for some – we can proactively reach out to those who are struggling so that they do not feel isolated.  If you or someone you know is struggling through the holiday and needs help, here are some of the local resources available:

  • 9-1-1 if you are in an emergency
  • 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) if you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be.  24 hours crisis line.
  • 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse 24/7, they can redirect you to appropriate resources depending on the kind of help you need
  • Mental Health Support Line at 310-6789 (no area code needed) for emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health
  • Online Chat Service for Youth: www.YouthInBC.com (12pm to 1am) 
  • Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (12pm to 1am) 

Blog Contributors: Amy Chow, RD from Chow Down Nutrition – https://www.chowdownnutrition.com

Michelle Shepherd, RD from Westcoast Nutrition: 5 Ways To Stay Healthy Over The Holidays (without skipping all the fun) –  https://westcoastnutrition.ca/how-to-stay-healthy-over-the-holidays-without-skipping-all-the-fun/ 

Jamie Hennessey, Blog Author, UBC Nutrition Student

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