5 tips for a more balanced holiday season

December 7th, 2023

Does holiday eating cause you extra stress or anxiety? Most holiday events, traditions, and parties do seem to be centred around food and for some people – food fear, shame, guilt, and anxiety can be highest during this “happiest” time of year. So I wanted to share a few tips to help you enjoy yourself this holiday season.

Hi, I’m Krista! I am a Registered Dietitian on a mission to show people how to feel better in their bodies without diets! Healthy eating shouldn’t be so restrictive + complicated. Instead, I preach balance. Eating balanced means nourishing your body and your soul so you can optimize physical health without sacrificing your mental health.

1. Start with your why

If you were my client, I would help you dig in to find your why – where is your fear, stress or anxiety stemming from?  

Is it a fear of:

  • feeling uncomfortable?
  • gaining weight?
  • feeling like once you start eating you won’t stop?
  • not knowing what foods will be offered at your holiday meal?
  • eating *bad* foods like cookies or pie? 

    Dig in and figure out your why. Once you identify it, you’ll be better able to build a plan. Talking to a nutrition professional could be beneficial to help challenge and reframe thoughts and fears as well as to set a plan to help you navigate the season. Message me if you need help!

2. Don't skip meals to "save your calories"

This is honestly one of the worst things you can do.  Overeating is your body’s biological response to restriction.  So if you skip breakfast and lunch in the hopes of “saving calories” for your holiday dinner – don’t be shocked if/when you overdo it.  Instead, I encourage you to eat your regularly timed meals and put extra emphasis on making your breakfast and lunch meals balanced, with a source of protein, fibre, and healthy fat. These satiating nutrients will help you feel full and in control. 

3. Use the balanced meal method

As often as you can, try to use the balanced meal method this holiday season. Balanced meals keep you more energized and satisfied than unbalanced ones. This method also helps to ensure you’re providing your body with those satiating nutrients: protein, fibre and fat.

Fill up:

  • half of your plate with produce (fruits and vegetables)
  • a quarter of your plate with starch or whole grains (pasta, stuffing, bread)
  • a quarter of your plate with lean protein (turkey, chicken, ham)
  • and a little bit of fat (oil, butter, gravy)

4. Savour the flavours

Have you ever timed yourself eating a meal? Unlike other countries where people spend hours each day at their table, generally in North America, people finish eating their meal in less than 15 minutes. Oftentimes only 5 to 10 minutes.

It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness. So when you gobble down your turkey dinner in 10 minutes and fill up your plate for round 2, you haven’t given your body a chance to feel satiety.  Then you gobble down that next plate and by the time you’re done, you feel so stuffed and uncomfortable. Instead, try to slow down your pace so you allow time to trigger the signal from your brain that you’re full. Feeling full can translate into eating less or not overeating. Research shows this too.  When you slow down from your normal eating pace you take in fewer calories.

5. Allow holiday treats too

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a slice of your favourite pie or baked goods during the holidays – or any other time of the year! I encourage my clients to nourish their bodies first. Aim to eat your balanced meal first to provide your body with fibre, protein, and micronutrients; then enjoy your favourite treat(s). When you have a cookie on an empty stomach, you’re much more likely to go back for more than if you eat that same cookie after a balanced meal. 

Holiday treats are a part of a balanced diet. There is no need to avoid them or to feel guilty for eating them. If you’re struggling with finding your balance or the feelings of guilt and shame this holiday season – seek professional help. My inbox is always open!  

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