Holiday Eating For a Healthy Waist

outdoor scene of someone skating during the holidays

Holiday fun with little or no weight gain? Yes it can be done! Follow these tips and enjoy!

1) Use your December calendar to record the days of the week you exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, on most if not all days. If you get to the end of the day and have not been active – it’s time to get moving. Three 10-minute brisk walks throughout the day can have positive health benefits and help you feel more energetic. Walk to do your errands, to visit friends and to do your shopping, whenever possible. A walk or exercise in the evening can also help curb your appetite.

2) Eat breakfast every day. When you eat breakfast, you won’t feel the urge to grab a high fat, mid-morning snack, such as a doughnut, croissant or fast food muffin. Eating a balanced breakfast can also decrease the amount of food you eat later in the day. Try a bowl of high fibre cereal (at least 4 grams fibre per serving), with skim or 1% milk and a piece of fruit or glass of pure fruit juice. If you have to eat on the run make a fruit and yogurt smoothie or have a whole grain bagel with peanut or almond butter and a banana.

3) Avoid skipping meals. Not eating throughout the day can lead to overeating later in the day. Instead, have several small nutritious snacks or meals during the day. Try low-fat yogurt, fruit or fruit salad, vegetable sticks, leafy green salads, whole grain bread or bagels, low-fat muffins, bean burritos, hummus and pita bread, chili, tortilla wraps, rice dishes with beans or vegetables, soup, whole wheat crackers with peanut butter, a handful of nuts and dried fruit, a hard boiled egg, milk, fruit and vegetable juice.

4) Watch out for party foods. It is easy to eat more than you really need! Pates, sausages rolls, cheese, snack crackers, egg and spring rolls, bacon wrapped scallops, and deep-fried chicken or fish pieces are typically high in calories and fat. Opt for the vegetables and fruit. Watch out too for the high fat dips! Choose dips that are made with yogurt or low fat salad dressing or mayonnaise.

Tip: If you overindulge on the finger foods opt for a light dinner afterward.

5) When eating out, choose foods that are steamed, baked, broiled, roasted, or poached. Select meat, fish, poultry or vegetables prepared with lemon, tomato and herbs instead of butter, rich sauces or gravy. Have pasta with tomato based sauces instead of cheese or cream sauces. Dark leafy green salads with light vinaigrette dressing are a good alternative to higher fat Caesar and taco salads.

6) Enjoy a small taste of dessert. When faced with a tempting array of rich desserts try a few small pieces or share a larger piece.

7) Drink plenty of fluids other than alcohol. Alcohol can add unwanted calories and can leave you feeling tired and run down. Alternate your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages such as soda or sparkling water, fruit or vegetable juices, and diet pop. If you drink alcohol, keep it to no more than 2 standard alcoholic beverages per occasion and no more than 14 alcoholic drinks for men or 9 alcoholic beverages for women per week. Water is the perfect choice to keep your hydrated and is calorie free.

A quick look at the calorie content of some holiday foods and beverages

Holiday foods

Apple (1 medium) 72 calories
Orange (1 medium) 62 calories
Baby Carrots (8) 28 calories
Celery (1 medium stalk) 26 calories
Red Pepper (1 medium) 31 calories
Almonds, dry roasted (1/4 cup, 60 mL 209 calories
Nuts, mixed, with peanuts, oil roasted (1/4 cup, 60 mL) 222 calories
Egg rolls (2 pieces 114 g) 119 calories
Spring rolls (2 small, 44g) 110 calories
Sausage rolls (3 small, 60 g) 180 calories
Shrimp, grilled on skewer (5 large, 57 g) 50 calories
Shrimp, breaded and deep fried (1 piece, 34 g) 90 calories
Chicken or beef satays with peanut sauce (4 pieces with 2 tbsp sauce) 140 calories
Meatballs, Italian, regular beef (4 meatballs, 60 g with 2 tbsp barbecue sauce) 220 calories
Meatballs, Italian, lean beef (4 meatballs, 60 g with 2 tbsp barbecue sauce) 160 calories
Cheese, cheddar (1 ½ oz, 50 g) or 3 one-inch cubes 202 calories
Cheese, gouda (1 ½ oz, 50 g) or 3 one-inch cubes 178 calories
Cheese, brie (1 ½ oz, 50 g) or 3 one-inch cubes 167 calories
Cheese, calorie reduced, 6% MF (1 ½ oz, 50 g) or 3 one-inch cubes 100 calories
Cheese, cream, regular (1 tbsp, 15 mL) 51 calories
Cheese, cream, low fat (1 tbsp, 15 mL) 34 calories
Snack crackers, melba toast, wheat (4 crackers, 20 g) 75 calories
Snack crackers, saltines (6 crackers, 20 g) 85 calories

Holiday beverages

Egg nog 2% (1 cup, 250 mL) 260 calories
Cranberry Cocktail (1 cup, 250 mL) 123 calories
Orange Juice (1 cup, 250 mL) 118 calories
Tomato Juice (1 cup, 250 mL) 44 calories
Tomato-clam cocktail (1 cup, 250 mL) 123 calories
Soft Drink, regular (1 cup, 250 mL) 110 calories
or 1 can (355 mL) 156 calories
Soft Drink, diet cola (1 cup, 250 mL) 3 calories
or 1 can (355 mL) 4 calories
Soda Water (1 cup, 250 mL) 0 calories
Tonic Water (1 cup, 250 mL) 124 calories
Mineral, bottled or tap water (1 cup, 250 mL) 0 calories
Wine, white (5 oz, 150 mL) 102 calories
Wine, red (5 oz, 150 mL) 108 calories
Beer, regular (341 mL bottle) 140 calories
Beer, light (341 mL bottle) 99 calories
Spirits – rum, vodka, gin, whisky (1 ½ oz, 45 mL) 98 calories

The bottom line

A few days of overindulgence will not undo your best intentions to be healthy but endless days of overeating and not being active will. The best way to prevent unwanted weight gain during the holiday season is to have a plan to be active and eat well and stick with it.


Find out more about how A Healthy Waist is Good for your Health

Alcohol and Nutrition

Find out how to keep your eating and activity habits on track using Dietitians of Canada’s EATracker

Last Update – May 10, 2018

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