Enjoying The Holidays Guilt Free

holiday plate with fruit on the table

By Dani Renouf, RD, MSc, CDE

Every year around the holidays, we tend to feel anxious about our food choices. Our usual eating habits can become disrupted, and we may make less healthy choices during this time of the year, leaving us feeling guilty and afraid that our health will suffer the consequences. But the aftermath of holiday feasts is not as bad as we tend to think. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people gain only one pound on average during the holidays. 

Nevertheless, moderation is generally a good approach year-round. During the holidays, it’s important to continue your usual healthy habits, such as being physically active, choosing more fruits and vegetables, and hydrating with water. This will help your overall well-being, even when meeting your daily goals becomes difficult. Remember, there isn’t an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to nutrition. Every small change counts toward better health outcomes.  

Here are some tips to help you understand that all foods can fit into your diet during the holidays and that you can enjoy the time around food without feeling guilt and shame.  

  1. Use fruit and vegetable platters with all appetizer offerings. Many people arrive at gatherings hungry, so they tend to fill their plates with not-so-healthy foods. To benefit these guests and your household, place a fruit bowl and a vegetable platter on the table, so everyone can help themselves to a healthy choice while waiting for dinner. Serve these foods with traditional snacks and appetizers, like this delicious Apple Cranberry Baked Brie recipe. Variety ensures everyone has options and reduces the stress and worry of holiday eating.  
  2. Make festive and delicious desserts like this Festive Raspberry Meringue Trifle. It has bright colours from the berries, a delicious texture from the meringue, and a spicey crunch from the candy canes. With some adjustments, you can reduce the sugar content and still enjoy the festive nature of the holidays without feeling restricted or bored. It’s all about embracing joyful eating while using ingredients suitable for your health goals. 
  3. Remember to include snacks during the day. Many people think that snacks will result in unwanted weight gain or increase blood sugar levels; however, snacks offer quite the opposite. They help you regulate your appetite so you can have more balanced portions at meals. They are also an excellent option for those trying to stabilize their blood sugar levels. Choosing fruit as a snack is a great way to boost your energy, regulate your blood sugar, get more fibre, regulate your appetite, and hydrate yourself, all at the same time.  

This holiday season, we hope you find new perspectives on how to eat joyfully, celebrate family recipes and traditions, and above all, nourish for overall health, whatever that looks like for you at that moment. Happy holidays!