Healthy Holiday Nutrition Tips

posted by Darlene DeWitt, MS, RD, LD on Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The holiday season is usually packed full of parties, shopping, decorating, extra errands and, of course, eating! It can be hard to see a way to get through this time without gaining weight. But, with a little planning ahead, you can.

What are the things that get in the way of your healthy habits during this time? Maybe your old family recipes are higher in fat and calories, or you are using your exercise time to go shopping for presents. Maybe you usually keep track of what you are eating, but you feel too rushed to take the time right now.

The first step is to brainstorm! Maybe you usually go walking for 60 minutes after work, but that’s when you need to run errands. So, break your exercise up into smaller sessions throughout the day. Or, is it those holiday recipes that are your personnel challenge? Try writing out the recipes and swapping out ingredients. 

Some easy swaps are:

  • Replace half your all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour
  • Use applesauce in place of fat (and then you can also decrease the sugar)
  • Use fat-free half and half in place of heavy cream
  • Try Healthy Request creamed soups in your casseroles

Balance is the key to avoid holiday weight gain. Usually, we tip the scale by eating more without burning more calories which leads to weight gain. So finding ways to increase your activity during the holidays can help you avoid that holiday weight gain. Think about adding things like:

  • Take the stairs
  • Do an extra lap or two around the outside of the store before you shop
  • Find an exercise video online
  • Walk for 10 minutes on your lunch break
  • Do some strength training exercises while you watch TV

Just remember that those small steps add up to big results. So, skipping the whipped cream on that peppermint mocha might not seem like much, but adding up all the healthful choices you make will make an impact and help you achieve a healthier holiday season.

Whole Grain Sugar Cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, oil, and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in egg, vanilla extract; beat until combined.
  3. Add in whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
  4. Mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Chill dough for 30 minutes. Lightly flour your surface, and then roll out cookies to ¼ inch thick. 
  5. Use your holiday cutters to cut out cookies. Place cookie dough on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until cookies have set. 
  6. Allow to cool. Decorate and enjoy!

Tip: If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, you can sift whole wheat flour for the same result. Just remember to sift the flour, then measure it out!

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About The Author

Darlene DeWitt, MS, RD, LD

Darlene DeWitt is one of Spencer Hospital’s Registered Dietitians. Darlene currently provides outpatient services in the areas of Diabetes management, heart disease, weight loss, GI issues and other various health concerns.  She received her Master of Science degree in nutrition from C ... read more