Your {Dietitian Approved} Guide to Healthy Holidays

Posted on December 7th, 2017
Stress always seems to sneak its way into our lives during the rush of the holiday season. Whether it is stress over preparing the dozens of dishes for a bountiful holiday dinner, fighting the crowds for the perfect gift, whizzing around town (or even the country) to visit with friends and family, or the dread of the extra holiday weight gain that is bound to happen – we have some tricks to help you have a healthier holiday season this year.


The holidays are prime travel time. For both long car rides and flights make sure you plan ahead and pack some snacks and/or meals to fight off hunger and avoid the not-so-healthy options often available in quick stops and terminals. If you are driving, try to stop every couple of hours to get out and stretch – on a plane try stretching between flights, walking the terminal, or even doing some stretching on the plane!
When you are traveling by plane – think comfort! There is nothing like being stuck in a 3 ft space for hours in uncomfortable clothes or walking from terminals in anything but tennis shoes. Skip the on-board beverages and bring your own empty refillable bottle that you can fill with water once you pass through security. I personally like to find the nearest bathroom after each flight and take the time to wash my hands – washing your hands is one of your best defenses against fighting illness.

Attending parties & events

Holiday parties keep us busy and feeling overly full. Avoid going on an empty stomach and don’t skip meals just to cut calories for those sweet treats at parties. It is important that during the stressful time of the holidays and with flu season being in full swing we are still filling our bodies with the important vitamins and nutrients we need to stay healthy. Keep yourself hydrated on water and limit alcoholic beverages as they tend to dehydrate us and are high in empty calories. Try indulging in smaller portions of the treats you only get this time of year – skip on the sweets that you can have any time. Work the room – keep busy talking with other guests instead of focusing on food.

Holiday Meals

If you are cooking your holiday dinner this year, try cutting back on all the options including starch heavy items and added salt! While having 12 different options for guests creates quite the beautiful display, your holiday dinner would be just as great with half that amount! This gives you less to stress over and makes it a little easier for guests to cut back and not over do it by feeling obligated to try each and every item you prepare. Salt is found in a lot of those holiday classics that we enjoy like Green Bean Casserole, Ham, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, and Gravy. Try swapping your canned food items for frozen or fresh vegetables, using low sodium/no salt added canned options, switching out salt for other tasty seasonings that add flavor to your meal, and limiting the amount of salt you add to your dishes. Focus on building your plate with the veggie dishes (try using seasonal veggies as your side dishes this year!), lean proteins like turkey, and just a little bit of the starch heavy options like mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and rolls. Also, look to keep a little bit of space on your plate instead of stacking it high or full. We usually eat with our eyes and don’t stop until our plate is empty – which can lead to overeating.

Still blaming the turkey for your sleepy slump? Research shows that the tryptophan in turkey isn’t to blame – it is the insulin response to all those starch heavy options on your plate! Eat slow, make a balanced plate, and allow yourself to enjoy this special meal without feeling overly full!

Seasonal Stress

Feeling the seasonal stress? It is a chaotic time of year and we don’t spend a lot of time outside soaking up that Vitamin D in the chillier months. Did you know mushrooms contain Vitamin D? If they’re not one of your favorite veggies – try sneaking them in by using the mushroom blend!

Mushroom Blended Burgers

This time of year brings a lot of giving to others but it is also important to give to ourselves as well. Try taking some extra time in the day to just breathe and decompress. Whether that is taking a bubble bath, reading, meditating, or doing yoga – it is important to take time for just you. Try to get to bed earlier – sleep is important in helping us feeling fully rested for the busy day ahead of us. And of course – try and sneak in some exercise! This sometimes can be a challenge with a busy schedule but even breaking it into smaller intervals counts! Try parking farther away on your grocery trips or taking the stairs instead of the elevator – every extra step is progress.

About the Blogger:

Heather Steele, RD/LD is a Registered Dietitian and is a board eligible Certified Specialist in Pediatrics. In her free time she enjoys cycling and cooking. Heather offices out of the Reasor’s off 71st & Lynn Lane and also covers the 101st & Elm location for all of your food & nutrition needs!
Blog content originally posted on the Reasor’s Healthy Living Facebook account
Information included does not constitute medical advice and should only be used as a general recommendation for a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle. Reasor’s Registered Dietitians’ opinions and recommendations are their own; they are not paid to endorse any products or services.