Healthy Holiday Nutritional and Wellness Choices

posted by Darlene DeWitt, MS, RD, LD on Friday, December 8, 2023

The holiday season is a magical time filled with fun activities, more family time, and of course … food! It can be busier than other times of the year, but you don’t get any extra hours in the day.  That means that often you sacrifice yourself to make the holiday special for everyone else. Here are some tips to help you maintain your healthy habits during the holidays.

Make food easier: Making pots of soup or chili, casseroles, sheet pan dinners, and crockpot meals are time savers during the winter months. You can make them ahead of time when your schedule allows and reheat leftovers for those days you have lots to do.  Check out for some ideas.

Plan physical activity: If you say, “I will exercise after I…” it is likely that your day will get away from you and it won’t happen.  So plan to do your physical activity early in the day.  Make a date with yourself using a SMART goal.  For example, making a mental note and telling yourself, “I will walk at the mall on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9 AM for 20 minutes,” helps you remember exactly what you want to do and follow through.  If you would normally exercise for 60 minutes, but you don’t feel like you have that much time, do it in shorter increments.  It all adds up and will give you the energy to do all the other things you want to do. Check out to help you plan your physical activity.

Don’t skip meals before a party or event: It is common to hear people say that they skipped lunch so that they could partake in the family potluck or office party. However, when you choose to skip meals thinking it is the better option, it will often have a negative result, typically causing you to overeat the next time that you do eat – ignoring those hunger/fullness cues that your body is sending.  Plus, you may not have much energy during the day because your body is out of fuel.  Plan for a light lunch so that you can make good decisions on food later.

Bring some portable snacks along every day: How often does your day of busy errands or fun activities not go as planned?  You are out later than you think and now everyone is starving so you end up driving through fast food. If you remember to plan ahead by packing some snacks in the car or a bag/purse, you can fend off the hunger until you get home to a healthy meal. Here are a few healthy snack options:

  • Nut packs or trail mix
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Fruit or cut-up veggies and single-serving peanut butter or ranch containers
  • Granola bars or breakfast bars with < 8 gm added sugars
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread

With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy the holidays and come out of them on January 1st ready for the New Year and feeling healthier for it!  Check out some holiday recipes at

12 Days of Christmas Wellness Challenge

Wed, Dec. 13 Day 1 Do deep breathing for 1 minute
Thu, Dec. 14 Day 2 Eat 2 servings of dairy foods
Fri, Dec. 15 Day 3 Do 3 sets of calf raises
Sat, Dec. 16 Day 4 Get up and walk in place during 4 commercial breaks
Sun, Dec. 17 Day 5 Get 5 servings of fruits/vegetables
Mon, Dec. 18 Day 6 Stand for 6 minutes every hour instead of sitting
Tue, Dec. 19 Day 7 Aim for 7 hours of sleep
Wed, Dec. 20 Day 8 Get 8 glasses of water today
Thu, Dec. 21 Day 9 Do 9 wall push-ups (or 3 sets of 3)
Fri, Dec. 22 Day 10 Walk 10 laps around a designated walking path (indoor or outdoor)
Sat, Dec. 23 Day 11 Write down 11 things you are grateful for
Sun, Dec. 24 Day 12 Dance to Christmas music for 12 minutes
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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