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Expert Tips for Healthier Holidays

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Expert Tips for Healthier Holidays

Because the holiday season is filled with parties, dinners and goodies galore, it can be a balancing act to stay on track. But, there’s no need to stress about it when you have a game plan. The Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services team shares strategies they use to help prepare for navigating a holiday season of food and drink.

Colleen Loveland, RDN

“I stay strong with my commitment to daily exercise–sometimes with my hectic schedule and long hours it's just the 30 minutes on my stationary bike late at night. I don't hit the pillow until I do it. This helps with the increased stress from holiday plans and also burns a few of those excess calories that creep in.”

“I also try to physically walk away from tempting foods and have an alternative available. For example–walk into the break room to find an apple pie...turn around and go back to my office for a few grapes that I brought from home.”

Elana Paddock, RDN

“If I know I’m going to a party, I am especially careful to balance what I eat that day–more fruits, vegetables and plenty of water so I’m not starving when I get there. I make a point to drink a bottle of water before I leave home.”

“I haven’t met too many desserts I don’t like, but I try to be selective and check out what’s there before trying a little of everything. I especially go for pumpkin treats because they are seasonal instead of year round. I also try to savor every bite!”

Patty Kirk, RDN

“I too love sweets but I try to remember that if the first bite isn’t good, the second bite won’t be any better!”

“At parties or dinners, when I fill my plate I take small portions of higher calorie items and always make sure I can see the bottom of my plate.  If vegetables are available I fill up on those.”

“I volunteer to bring something to parties and dinners, especially roasted vegetables.  For example, I cut up broccoli, asparagus, onions, colorful peppers, sliced mushrooms and anything else I can think of. I toss them with a little olive oil and minced garlic and roast in a 425 degree oven until tender.”

“I try to appreciate the feeling of being satisfied instead of stuffed.”

Gillian Gatewood, RDN

“I’m a goal-oriented person, so especially during the holiday months I like to sign up for a few 5K-10K runs to help keep me motivated to stay physically active and help keep my metabolism going.”

“I ask myself, treats or drink?  It’s never good to drink on an empty stomach and empty calories can add up to keep me from my ultimate goal of weight maintenance during the holiday season. At parties and family gatherings I may have a glass of eggnog or wine and forgo the desserts and sweets, or I’ll stick to a calorie-free beverage, such as sparkling water or diet soda, and have a few of my favorite holiday sweets (on a small plate).”

“During most days of the holiday season it is good to exercise caution in the number of indulgences we partake in. It can mean the difference between weight maintenance and the development of the dreaded holiday bulge. I try to pass up the many sweets and treats at the office, home and while out and about; however, on THE DAY I let loose a little and I don’t focus on tracking, counting or portioning as strictly. When the Holi-day is over I jump right back on track.”

Cynthanne Duryea, RDN

“At a party, I always have one bottle of water between a limit of two alcohol beverages. To make this easier, I always bring a bottle of wine, La Croix sparkling water and Knudsen’s Tart Cherry Juice. That way, I can make myself a spritzer using the La Croix and a splash of tart cherry juice. Other party guests enjoy this as well! I do this at home too….it feels festive and special, instead of simply drinking plain water!”

“Before arriving at a party, I usually have a small snack with protein (such as a Greek yogurt, fruit with cottage cheese or an ounce of nuts).  This way, I am not tempted to stuff myself with chips and dips/cheese and crackers, due to excessive hunger.”

“When baking for the holidays, I aim to give away what I bake as gifts and keep only a small amount for me and my family to enjoy. If two dozen cookies are at my house, they will ALL get eaten!”

“Personally, I never alter recipes to be lower calorie or reduced-fat because I like to prepare holiday dishes in their traditional fashion. However, after the holiday is over, I go right back to my typical healthy eating patterns.” 

On a final note, a good rule of thumb is to remember to celebrate a holi-day…not a holi-week or a holi-month!” For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit or call 972.560.2655.

Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.