Healthy Holiday Nutrition

The holiday season is a challenge when you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle. This is the time of year from Thanksgiving to New Years when we have tempting goodies and foods we normally don’t eat. Not only are we making choices we would normally not, but we are also eating more than the norm.

So how can we make it through the holiday season without too much weight gain and maintain some healthy choices?

These ten tips for Healthy Holiday Nutrition will help:

  1. Don’t skip meals. Think of the holiday season as you would any other day of the year. Each day should begin with a healthy breakfast. When you start with a good breakfast you’ve already made one healthy choice for the day, the rest will just fall into place.
  2. Eat at home as often as you can. During the holiday season we have more parties and events to attend then usual. For this reason, whenever possible eat home cooked meals instead of dining out. Be prepared for the times you don’t feel like cooking because you are exhausted or just running late by having emergency frozen meals on hand. You can make these yourself or purchase healthy frozen entrees. Now you have a meal in minutes without calling the local pizza delivery or hitting the drive through.
  3. Make your recipes lighter. Substitutions for fats and sugar in your favorite traditional holiday recipes can make them lighter. Don’t worry you won’t compromise the flavor and friends and family won’t miss the calories and fat! Try using egg substitutes in place of the whole egg, pureed fruits in place of fats, and broth instead of butter or oil when cooking.
  4. Don’t sample while you cook! All those taste tests can add up to significant calories.
  5. Choose lean proteins! Make sure the meats you are choosing are not high fat meats like Prime Rib. Choose lean beef, ham or the white meat of the turkey without the skin. By choosing the white meat of the turkey without the skin you will save around 12 grams of fat per 3.5 ounce serving! That’s a lot!
  6. Skip the treats! It seems that cookies and treats are abundant in the holiday season. How do we avoid them… don’t buy them, don’t bake them! If you don’t have them available, you won’t eat them. Instead of having a tray of cookies on the counter fill a fruit basket and in place of the candy in the candy jar fill it with roasted nuts instead!
  7. Skip the alcohol! Cocktails, beer and wine are just empty calories and if your goal is weight loss adding a bunch of calories from adult beverages will just increase your waist line. Stick to one or two if you have any at all and enjoy sparkling water, diet soda, tea or coffee instead.
  8. Watch out for portion distortion. Keep your portions small and don’t go for seconds and thirds! Eating slowly will help your brain and belly communicate and means you will eat less.
  9. Move more! Stick to your regular exercise routine as much as you can. Don’t skip your usual exercise because you only have 15 minutes, take the 15 minutes, it’s better than zero! Make every effort you can to move more getting in extra steps where you are able, try a pedometer and go for 10,000 steps daily!
  10. Be ready for sabotage. During the holiday’s its not only the temptation of food and a busier than usual calendar that prevents us from sticking to our healthy plans, it can also be well meaning friends and family. There will always be the person that will coax you into eating something you would rather not or eating more because “it’s the holiday’s, you can have it.” Practice what you will say to these folks and be ready for potential hurt feelings as you aren’t eating extra portions as you may have in the past!

The holiday season with all the wonderful parties and cheer means celebrations that most always revolve around food. Remember to enjoy friends and family, try not to focus on the food but on the conversation and what the holiday season means to you.



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About Karyn Capozzo, RD, LD, CDE

Karyn Capozzo is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian in Bonita Springs, Florida. Karyn graduated from the University of Florida and completed her internship in dietetics with Cornell Medical Center in 1997. Since then she has had a diverse career ranging from clinical dietetics on a burn unit at Grady Memorial Hospital to a private practice promoting healthy lifestyles with proper nutrition and exercise. More information about Karyn and her practice can be found online: