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Guide to Happy and Healthy Holidays

Guide to Happy and Healthy Holidays

The registered dietitians at Tri-City Medical Center are working hard to keep everyone off the naughty list this holiday season. The following nutrition guide was developed by the team for a recent employee wellness class.

We thought we’d share our favorite tips and tricks to keep you feeling your best this season.

Modify recipes to reduce fat and calories and increase healthful nutrients

Pumpkin puree, avocado, and applesauce can be used in place of butter or oil when baking. Nonfat or low-fat plain Greek yogurt substitutes nicely for sour cream, mayonnaise, or cream. Try lean ground turkey instead of beef, evaporated skim milk versus whole milk, and spiralized or “riced” vegetables, such as zucchini, sweet potato, cauliflower, and spaghetti squash in place of pasta and rice.

Photo credit - MyFitnessPal (

Photo credit – MyFitnessPal

Make better choices this year

No need to give up your holiday favorites, but making wiser choices when it comes to parties, potlucks, shopping trips, and festive events can minimize the excess calories you consume.

  • Do not skip meals – going to a food centered event hungry will likely leave you hovering over the food table and overeating.
  • Take snacks on the go with you – a handful of almonds, a cheese stick, boiled egg, or fruit slices can curb you hunger and help you resist temptations.
  • Bring a healthy dish to the potluck so you know there will be something light to eat. Try a fruit platter with yogurt dip or vegetable platter with hummus.
  • Trim calories by choosing white meat turkey over dark, pumpkin pie over pecan, and gingerbread cookies instead of sugar cookies.
christmas veggie trays

Photo credit – Yum Food & Fun

Limit liquid calories

Liquid calories do not fill us up like food calories do. Drink water with and between meals to stay hydrated.

Beverage Calories
Lite Beer (12 fl oz) 100
Alcohol (1.5 fl oz) 100
Apple cider (8 fl oz) 120
Wine (6 fl oz) 124
Cranberry juice cocktail (8 fl oz) 140
Beer (12 fl oz) 150
Soda (12 fl oz) 150
Sparkling apple cider (8 fl oz) 150
Eggnog (8 fl oz) 306

Practice mindfulness this season.

The stretch of time between Halloween and New Year’s is when we are more likely to eat mindlessly than mindfully. Practice mindful eating by following these tips:

  • Take your time
  • Allow yourself to taste your food
  • Enjoy the flavor and texture of food
  • Put your fork down between each bite
  • Stop when you are 80% full

Emotions can sometimes get the best of us and derail our healthy eating plan. If you are eating until you are uncomfortable and stuffed, you might be eating out of emotion rather than hunger. If you often eat for emotional reasons instead of hunger, try these activities:

  • Lonely: Call a friend; do not make food a companion
  • Bored: Stay busy with healthy activities
  • Sad: Write in a journal or talk with a friend
  • Happy: Learn to celebrate without food
  • Stressed: Take “10” for yourself and find a relaxing activity

Continue to be physically active amidst the holiday fun

Shorter days and holiday outings tend to divert us from our regular exercise routine, which increases the risk of holiday weight gain. Do your best to squeeze in your favorite activities. Also, exercise is one of the best ways to manage holiday stress.

  • Make family time active time: Take a walk or a hike, check out an indoor rock climbing or trampoline park, go for a bike ride.
  • Why wait until January when gyms are packed? Sign up for that yoga class or gym membership you’ve been thinking about.
  • Take a walk during your work day, stand instead of sit, and park at the far end of the parking lot.