Holiday Foods

Marie Browning, Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Holistic Life Coach, recently sent out these helpful tips for making healthy food choices during the holiday season.  We like her suggestions so much that we’re passing them on to you word for word:


. . . the holiday grazing has begun!  The average person will gain 3-6 pounds over the next three weeks, and most will keep the weight permanently.  Having some effective strategies for holiday eating can make it easier to avoid this and can help you feel better in the process.  Below are some tips I hope will be useful for you.

Shopping and errands

Always have a meal plan for the day. Decide ahead of time if and where to stop for lunch. Natural food grocery store cafes are great places to try new foods while enjoying salad, soup, and hot food bars. Sitting down for a real meal gives everyone a break and encourages wiser food choices.

Keep an insulated bag in the car pre-packed with crackers, nuts, nut butter packets, and water. My bag also holds small paring knife, a cloth napkin (to protect clothing), and a spoon & fork.  By grabbing cheese, fruit, or yogurt as I go out the door, I avoid getting too hungry between meals.  I take along my favorite tea in an insulated mug, too, which saves money and avoids temptation.  You know how it goes, you stop for coffee, buy a mocha latte, and the muffins smell good, and you’re tired, and … before you know it, you’ve spent $15, and a day’s allotment of calories! An hour later, you’re crashing and cranky. Or, the kids are fussy and you pull into the nearest junkfood-land joint.  Planning ahead eliminates these scenarios altogether.

Park as far away from store entrances as possible to slip extra steps into the day, and take the stairs whenever you can.  All those 1 minute jaunts can really add up.

Parties, get-togethers, and big holiday meals

Do not arrive starving! Have something healthy before you leave home–a salad, a bowl of soup.  Try to eat lighter before and after “eating out” days. Then, pick and choose what really appeals to you. Choose protein rich foods first, which fill you up and won’t spark cravings for the sweet floury stuff that benefit no one.

If you can bring a dish, be sure it is a delicious healthy one you and other health conscious guests can enjoy.

Decide if a food is worth having. This is not the last cake, pie, or cream puff you will ever get the chance to eat.  Don’t eat a food just because it’s there, especially if you aren’t crazy about it. If there is a dish you simply must have, serve yourself a single small portion and take the time to savor each bite.  Then, put plenty of distance between you and the object of your desire!

Talk and mingle. Focus your attention on people rather than food.  If Hors d’Oeuvres are being offered, resist the urge to fill up a plate.  Pick up a napkin and choose one thing at a time.  Come back later for another.  Don’t sit when you can stand or walk around. Don’t stand next to the food!

Consider your beverages. It’s easy to suck down hundreds of empty calories in a few glasses.  Transform your glass of wine or fruit drink into a healthier spritzer by adding sparkling water or club soda to dilute it tastefully, or just enjoy the sparkling water by itself.   I don’t need to tell you to avoid soft drinks completely.

Be ready for the person who always insists that you eat more. The food pusher doesn’t control your health or live with the consequences of poor choices, you do.  “Thank you, I’m sure it’s delicious, maybe later”, “I’ve had too much already, can I take some home?”, or “I wish I could, but my nutritionist told me I mustn’t eat that right now”.  One of my clients says she always blames it on me, and that’s OK — Whatever works!

Post a picture of your thinner self on the refrigerator door. Eat what that person would eat.

Write down everything you eat. This has been proven to be the most successful weight management strategy, bar none.

I was once a pasty chef and caterer, and am a true foodie. When I entertain, I always try to offer a few intensely flavored dishes that leave guests satisfied without feeling stuffed. I give away leftovers or freeze them right away to avoid nibbling.

The holidays are filled with yummy food.  By using these strategies, you can limit the damage, while still enjoying a few special treats.

Marie Browning is a certified holistic nutritionist and a certified holistic life coach who works primarily with women and children.  To learn more about how to live a healthy lifestyle, visit

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