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More Butter? Healthy Holiday Tips from Foodie/Nutritionist

Posted Dec 22 2009 12:00am

Ah, the holidays. After a very frustrating day of travel (East Coast snow storms make flying across the country rather difficult), I am now safely back at my parents’ house in California. And man is the weather here a lot nicer than back in Connecticut!

Snowman cookie, decorated by yours truely

Amidst the baking (I have reserved all of today for making sweets), cooking, and heavy eating that inevitably occurs during the holidays, it’s important to make an effort to incorporate low-calorie options when possible to avoid the consequences of over-indulgence in which so many of us partake. Fact: certain studies have shown that the average American gains between 1 and 5 pounds during the holidays. “One pound, that’s nothing!” you say. Well, even when weight gain was only 1 pound, people tended not to lose this extra weight. This becomes very bad news after, oh say, 20 years of holidays.


Eating healthy during the holidays is not easy, but there are things you can do to reduce the damage. For instance:

  • Plan ahead. If you are going to be eating a lot later in the day, keep the rest of the day light. Choose low-calorie, low-fat foods and small portions during the first part of the day, so you can feel good about having that extra cookie later.
  • Don’t show up at parties hungry. Avoid over-eating at the buffet. Have a low-fat snack, such as low-fat cheese and veggies or some fruit, before leaving for a holiday party, so you are less inclined to fill up on hors d’oeuvres.
  • Be social. Rather than hovering over the buffet, grab a drink (try something non-alcoholic, like club soda and lime) and move your way into the crowd to mingle with friends and make new acquaintances.
  • Choose healthy party foods. Go ahead and try those fried appetizers, high fat dips (that includes the spinach and artichoke dip!), and cheese cubes, but go easy on your portions. For the most part, fill your plate with raw veggies, hummus dip, and shrimp with cocktail dip. If you are asked to bring an hors d’oeuvre, bring a healthy choice, so you know one will be available.
  • Only make one trip to the buffet. Fill your plate once (small portions, opt for veggies), and leave it at that. A bite here and a bite there throughout the evening, and your calories will add up surprisingly fast.
  • At a sit-down dinner, take half the portion you would usually take at the first go-round. That way, you can still take seconds (and please your host), without eating more than you would have normally.
  • Be active with your family after the feast. Rather than sitting around talking or watching movies, take the family out for a walk.


  • Please, keep realistic goals. If you are currently trying to lose weight, keep in mind that weight loss is next to impossible during the holidays. Keep your goals realistic aim for weight maintenance during the holidays rather than weight loss. If you can manage this, you will be in good shape, and can resume your regular routine after the holidays. 


Remember, it’s okay to enjoy your favorite traditional holiday foods, as long as you make smart, healthy choices and find a balance between the heavy and the healthy.

Happy Holidays!

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