Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Staying Healthy During the Holidays

The holiday season is here! This time of year is a great time to celebrate with family and friends. However, it is very easy to overindulge in all of the wonderful food we are presented with during our holiday celebrations. According to the National Institute of health, excessive holiday food intake can result to an average weight gain of 1-2 pounds per year. This means over many years, this can really add up! Accordingly, it is important to combine a balance of fun, food and activity to stay healthy and still enjoy yourself during the holiday season.

7 Tips for Healthy Holidays

  1. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
  • Start with small portions and eat your food slowly.
  • Take a break before reaching for seconds as it takes about 20 minutes after you’ve eaten for your brain to realize you’re full and tell you it’s time to stop eating.
  1. Add some color to your plate
  • Fill your plate with vegetables, leafy green vegetables and fruit.
  • Bring a dish! Bring a healthy appetizer of fruit, vegetables, hummus and pita or other healthy options to ensure there is a healthier option for everyone.
  1. Everything in Moderation
  • Start off the meal with a fresh vegetable or low sodium broth based soup-it will fill you up and help you avoid loading up on high calorie appetizers.
  • Enjoy your favorite holiday foods but use smaller plates to reduce your portion sizes.
  • Choose only 1-2 small desserts to try or split larger desserts with a family member or friend.
  • Pass on high calorie treats that you can get any time of the year (i.e. Chips, chocolate)
  1. Watch out for Liquid Calories
  • Alcoholic and nonalcoholic drink calories can add up quickly. Try alternating your drinks with club soda, sparkling water with lime.
  • If you do choose to drink alcohol keep it to no more than 2 standard alcoholic beverages per occasion for women (with a max of 10 drinks per week) and 3 drinks per occasion for men (with a max of 15 drinks per week).
  • Remember that alcohol reduces your inhibitions and may also lead to overeating.
  • If you like eggnog, try mixing ¼ cup eggnog with skim milk to reduce its high calorie content. You may also try choosing low fat, low sugar eggnog products as well.
  1. Stay Active
  • Balance out your extra caloric intake with exercise. Aim for at least 30 min/day at least 5 days a week or 150 min a week however you prefer to space it out.
  • Start slow with your exercise regimen if you are not accustomed to longer periods of activity. You may start with 10 minute intervals at a time three times daily.
  • Consult your health care provider before starting any new exercise regimen and if you have shortness of breath, chest pain or dizziness with activity.
  • Exercise can be included in your holiday activities as well! You may walk an extra few laps around the mall while doing your Christmas shopping, go ice skating or make a snowman.
  1. It’s All in the Preparation
  • Pick foods that are baked not fried.
  • Choose foods prepared with sauces made with lemon, tomato and herbs instead of butter, rich sauces or gravy.
  1. Eat Regularly
  • Avoid skipping meals as this may lead to overindulgence at the next meal.
  • Eat healthy small meals and snacks every 3-4 hours to curb your hunger and keep your energy levels steady.
  • Don’t skip breakfast! This may lead to overindulgence in high calorie snacks mid morning or at lunch.

Remember, the best way to prevent unwanted weight gain during the holiday season is to be prepared to stick to a plan of staying active and eating well during holiday events and in-between. Your mind and body will thank you for it in the New Year to come!

Wishing you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season!

The Provincial Medical Centre Team


Eat Right Ontario (2016) Holiday eating for a healthy waist. Retrieved from

Healthy Canadians (2013) Healthy holiday eating. Retrieved from