How to eat healthy for the holidays
December 20, 2022
Joan Hatem-Roy, CEO

Question: I’m really looking forward to my sister’s holiday party and seeing family and friends, but I know I will be tempted by all the food and a lot of diet-busting desserts. I’ve been trying to eat healthier all year long, and I’m afraid the holiday season will undo my hard work. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: This time of year, more than just sugar plums are dancing in people’s heads. They’re considering a rich selection of holiday fare. Temptations lurk at home, the office, and friends’ houses. Parties, traveling, and changing time zones can play havoc with diets and routines.

The Centers for Disease Control suggests the following tips to eat healthier during the season.

Plan to avoid temptation. For example, if you’re invited to a potluck, you can be sure at least one healthy item will appear by bringing it yourself.

Eating a small amount of candy or sweets at a holiday dinner can reduce your overall sugar intake if you cut back on other carbs like bread and potatoes during the meal.

Choose homemade over highly processed foods and you’ll avoid many fats and preservatives.

Don’t skip meals. Missing a meal before attending a big feast can be a mistake. People inevitably eat more when they do this.

Be mindful of the calories contained in desserts because not all desserts are created equal. For example, pumpkin pie, even when served with whipped cream, contains one-third fewer calories than pecan pie.

Get moving. Exercise benefits everyone, even if completed in smaller increments.

Be strategic at the buffet. Pick a small plate of your favorite foods and then leave the table. Eat some vegetables first to take the edge off your appetite. Eat slowly because our brains take about 20 minutes to realize our stomachs are full.

Feel free to enjoy some holiday favorites. If these come packed with calories, just say you’d love to try them but want a smaller position.

It’s best to avoid or limit alcohol.

Get an adequate amount of sleep, about 7 to 8 hours every night. Sleep affects diet. Experts say sleep-deprived people tend to eat more and favor high-fat, high-sugar foods when they do.

Our Healthy Living Center of Excellence has a free program, Healthy Eating for Successful Living in Older Adults, that explains how to eat smart, year-round. For more information, call 978-946-1211 or visit

The holidays are all about tradition and connection and eating together is a wonderful way of bonding and sharing. Happy holidays!

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