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Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

Written by: Deanna Goodson, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The holidays are upon us, and, for many, they bring challenges surrounding food and beverages. The average American gains about seven pounds from Halloween to New Year’s Eve. Many of my clients express frustration at this time of year and are looking for tips, tricks and strategies to keep from gaining weight.

A shot of family having reunion dinner at home.

I often recommend that a client strive to remain the same during the holidays. We have to be realistic. There are foods that are special to us, and holiday celebrations revolve around food and drink. Many of our best holiday memories are related to food.

It’s okay to indulge a little bit, but you don’t have to go overboard during the holidays in order to enjoy them fully. What can you do instead? There are plenty of options.

  1. Opt for experiences, not indulgences. When planning holiday events, try to think about the experience and not what you’ll serve for lunch or dinner. Create opportunities to celebrate the moments of the season without eating through them. For example, perhaps you could invite a friend over to chat or visit a family member just to have a conversation. Memories are made in many ways and food doesn’t have to be at the center of ours.

  2. Build in exercise into your holiday plans. Why not go skiing with the family or skating if you’d prefer? Maybe you could take a holiday walk or indulge in a friendly family game of football or soccer. Cater the event to your interests and budget.

  3. Offer to bring a healthy dish to a holiday party. Hosts and hostesses love it when you offer to make their workload a little lighter. You can bring a crudité platter or a healthy side dish to go along with a heavy meal. If you have a special diet such as being gluten or dairy free this can help keep you on track while still enjoying yourself at a holiday party. If you bring something healthy and eat it, you will probably knock out something a little less health-promoting in the process. It’s a concept referred to as crowding out. Crowding out holds that you can only eat or drink so much in a given day. If you swap at least one unhealthy indulgence with a more health-promoting one, then you will save yourself some stress and calories by the end of the day.

  4. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Most holiday platters have veggie trays or fruits on them. You can even opt for some nuts – just make sure you practice moderation. Fill up on the veggies or fruits and there will be less room for the cakes and cookies that abound during the holiday season.

  5. Practice balance. If you are going to a holiday party and know that you want to indulge in some sweet treats, for example, then try to eat a light breakfast or lunch. Don’t skip meals as that leads to overeating later. However, if you make the meals lighter, then you have room for an indulgence or two. This also goes for alcohol. Alcohol is basically liquid sugar. I’m not saying you have to avoid it, but you should plan for it. Try to drink a glass of water along with the alcohol to reduce the dehydrating benefits of it. You have choices, remember that. Every eating event is a choice point, and you can choose to minimize the caloric damage of a holiday event with a little adjustment in your strategy.

How each of these tips relates to you is up to you. You get to decide how you enjoy the holidays. If food memories are important to your celebration of the season, then, by all means, indulge. Just be smart about it and remember that you can choose what you want to eat – and what you don’t want to even if Aunt Sally is pushing her sweet potato casserole or mom is begging you to try her cheesecake. You are the captain of your health and well-being. Decide on your holiday strategies before you hit the festivities and you’ll find that – perhaps – you will enjoy the holidays without over-indulging after all, creating new and lasting memories that don’t relate to food alone.

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Deanna Goodson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Deanna Goodson is a professional life and mental health coach, nutritional counselor, and writer. She received her coach training at Rhodes Wellness College in Canada and received an ACC credential from the International Coaching Federation in May of 2019, which was recently renewed. As a mental health coach, Deanna is well-versed in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Emotional Freedom Technique, aka Tapping. Deanna is also a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and has a certificate in Emotional Eating Psychology (EEP). She follows an intuitive eating approach for her clients and helps them repair their relationship with food.



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