This is Public Health

Healthy holiday eating tips

Holidays are a time to enjoy with family, friends and colleagues. With parties and gatherings around every corner, it can often feel like all you’re doing is eating. As a result, it can be difficult to keep a commitment to eating well.

With this in mind, we asked research students Alexa Ferdinands and Rachel Prowse—both registered dietitians—to provide us with some recipes, tips and strategies to help you stay healthy and mindful as you navigate holiday celebrations.


Hosting a holiday party

Use smaller plates.
As the saying goes, your eyes are bigger than your stomach. This seems to be especially true during the holidays. Swapping out the large dinner plates for salad or dessert plates can help to curb your portion sizes by making them appear larger.

Serve the veggies first.
If you are serving appetizers or the main meal buffet style, place the salads and vegetable dishes at the start of the buffet table. You and your guests will be more likely to fill up a plate with veggies, making it easier to choose smaller portions of the more decadent, higher calorie choices.

Bring a new, healthy festive dish to the table this year.
While we may have certain holiday food traditions that we cannot part with for sentimental reasons, the holidays can also be a time to experiment in the kitchen. To spice up your holiday menu, try these recipes for herbed barley bean risotto, chorizo tapas with roasted red pepper sauce, chocolate raspberry quinoa pudding or honey cocoa balls with red lentils.


Attending a holiday party

Avoid skipping meals before the party.
Although you might think that cutting calories pre-party will leave you some calorie “wiggle room,” not eating enough throughout the day can lead to overeating later. Aim to have several, small balanced snacks or meals during the day. Try low-fat Greek yogurt and fruit, veggie sticks and hummus, chicken lettuce wraps, whole grain toast and peanut butter, a handful of nuts and dried fruit, low-fat cheese and whole grain crackers, or low-fat milk and high fibre cereal.

Re-think your drink.
Our friends at Alberta Health Services have created helpful guidelines when it comes to quenching your thirst. It’s important to remember that many holiday drinks are high in calories and sugar, so to choose your beverage wisely.

To limit the calories from drinks:

  • Choose black coffee, tea or herbal tea (with or without milk).
  • Use flavoured coffee beans instead of adding flavoured coffee creamers.
  • Try a light beer or wine spritzer (½ white wine and ½ club soda).
  • Mix an alcoholic drink with diet pop.
  • Add extra flavour to water without extra calories by infusing water with cucumber slices, cranberries, sliced oranges or other fruit.