How can I eat smart during the holidays?


The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it comes indulgent, calorie-laden foods. Regardless of one’s personal celebrations, this time of year brings a barrage of gatherings, from office parties to family dinners, church brunches to candy jars to cookie exchanges. It can be wonderful and overwhelming and fun and exhausting … all at the same time. And it can be challenging to maintain a healthy weight. 

Residing in New York City often feels like navigating a tempting food paradise, especially during the holiday season. Here, we’d like to share some mindful nutrition tips to eat smart during the holidays.

Embrace Tradition: The holidays are steeped in tradition, and food plays a significant role in these customs. Savor your grandmother’s potato latkes, indulge in dulce de leche pudding, relish bouche de Noel, or savor amaretti cookies. After all, traditions are woven into the fabric of the season, and the flavors passed down through generations are timeless. So, enjoy!

Reevaluate Your Beverage Choices: Drink water, sparkling water, cinnamon tea, and infusions. The allure of holiday flavors is undeniable—peppermint, eggnog, pumpkin spice, and cider are winter beverage staples and have become stand-bys in our coffee. Yet, when we pop that cork on a wine bottle or mix those holiday cocktails, we’re consuming lots of calories and sugar. Here are some calorie counts in beloved holiday beverages (we’re not even going to talk about fat and sugar):


  • Wine (5 oz) = up to 125 calories
  • Martini  (2.25 oz)= 124 calories
  • Cosmopolitan (2.25 oz) = 146 calories
  • Egg nog (1 cup)= 350 calories
  • Hot buttered rum = 418 calories
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte (16 oz) = 410 calories


Sip Slowly and Stay Hydrated: Moderation is key when drinking. Savor each sip mindfully, allowing the flavors to linger. To prevent drinking too much, drink water after your alcoholic drinks. Alcohol can be dehydrating, so it’s crucial to remain mindful of your hydration needs. Additionally, skipping whipped cream on your drinks can save you up to 200 calories.

Prioritize Nutrient-Rich Choices: When filling your plate at holiday gatherings, start with nutrient-rich options. Load up on salads, vegetables, and non-cream soups to kickstart your meal. These lighter choices will not only satisfy your appetite but also leave less room for calorie-dense offerings. Your stomach will thank you later.

Use Sauces Sparingly: While sauces can add flavor to dishes, they can also pack on extra calories. Opt to have sauces served on the side, allowing you to control the amount you use. A little goes a long way.

Mind the Snack Bowl: The proximity of the snack bowl can greatly influence your nibbling habits. Keep it out of arm’s reach to avoid continuous grazing. An “out of sight, out of mouth” approach can help you make mindful choices.

Don’t Skip Regular Meals: Skipping meals in anticipation of a later indulgence can backfire, leading to overeating when you’re famished. Stick to your usual meal schedule, opting for lower-calorie options. Holiday parties can be an opportunity to enjoy a treat or a cup of cider, but they shouldn’t replace your regular meals.

Use Smaller Plates: Use smaller plates and utensils when serving yourself. Research shows that the size of your dishware can influence the amount you eat. By opting for smaller options, you naturally limit your portions.

Practice Mindful Eating: Overeating often stems from not paying attention to our body’s signals. Take a moment to pay attention to your body’s cues before grabbing another plate of hors d’oeuvres. Sometimes, we eat simply because the food is readily available. Engage in mindful eating, savor each bite, listen to your body, and stop before you reach fullness.

Remember, the holidays aren’t solely about the food; they’re a celebration of time spent with friends, family, and colleagues. So, while these tips can help you navigate the culinary temptations, don’t forget to relish the joyous moments and festivities. Enjoy the season to the fullest!