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Eating over the Holidays

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written by Taylor Gerlach

With the holidays approaching, you likely have a lot of traditions that center around food. We sat down with our on-staff Registered Dietitian Sara Sheridan to talk through some ways to approach this season from a nutrition standpoint. 


Avoid food guilt

Having a healthy relationship with food is a goal to keep in mind all year long, but it’s an especially important mantra to remind yourself of around the holidays. What you’re eating or not eating should not be the focus. Spend your time and energy investing in the people you’re with and the traditions you share. Food shouldn’t be something that you put on a pedestal and allow to dictate your day. That’s easier said than done, so here are some helpful tips:

  • At a big gathering, or even the seasonal section in Trader Joe’s, take a look at everything before choosing what you want to eat
  • Ask yourself, “what am I actually craving right now?”
  • Remember that there will be leftovers and time to try dishes in the coming days, so you don’t have to get a serving of everything now

Look at the big picture

We aren’t going to give you a cute list of “12 healthy food swaps” to trade your favorite traditional dishes for some “healthier” version. Instead, let’s look at our overall outlook on nutrition and health:

  • How do you define “healthy?”
  • What are your healthy habits over the course of a week or month?
  • Realize that one meal does not dictate health, but look at the bigger picture instead.
  • Holiday meals are just another meal. They don’t have the power to make or break your health, so don’t give them that power in your mind.

With little ones

If kids are a part of your family, we have some tips for making this holiday season’s foods a fun and inclusive experience for them too:

  • Involve your kids in the cooking process. Let them help and see how food is made and prepared.
  • Set up a buffet and let them choose what goes on their plate. Give them some agency over their own food choices. 
  • Offer kids desserts. Teach kids that dessert is just another food, not something to be afraid of or see as forbidden.