Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter


Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

December 13, 2013

Kimberlee Alvari, registered dietitian and director of food and nutrition services at Washington Hospital, suggests that you keep moving so the pounds can’t catch up, limit treats to one small serving a day, be a “mindful eater,” control temptation by keeping treats out of sight, and not skip meals to “make room” for food later.The holiday season, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, is the hardest time of the year for people to manage their weight. Holiday parties, family dinners, lunches out during shopping excursions, bowls of candy, and plates of cookies available at every turn can make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet.

Lots of tasty, appealing food abounds at most parties and office gatherings.  By the end of the season, all those festive moments and celebrations can easily lead to a notch or two adjustment of the belt. And, once the resolve to lose those pounds surfaces in January, it is much more difficult to do than anticipated. 

The danger comes when people don’t lose those extra pounds gained during the holidays.  Over the years, the weight keeps building up and often leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and other problematic health issues.

Kimberlee Alvari, registered dietitian and director of food and nutrition services at Washington Hospital, suggests a few smart strategies for the holidays.  Keep these tips in mind to maintain a healthy weight this holiday season.

  • Smart Step #1: Keep moving so the pounds can’t catch up. Sneak in a little extra physical activity, and definitely don’t skip planned exercise. This will burn off the additional calories and produce the beneficial stress-reducing effects of exercise.
  • Smart Step #2: Limit treats to one small serving a day during the holiday season, such as a cookie or piece of candy. Remember, it may be necessary to increase exercise or reduce total caloric intake based on the circumstances. Also, skipping a treat one day does not mean it’s okay to overdo it the next day… keep the treats to just one per day.
  • Smart Step #3: Be a “mindful eater,” especially at parties. Do not to go to a party hungry.  Take a smaller plate and load it with plenty of fruits and veggies. Pay attention to every bite and take a second look at it. The visual connection will allow you to keep a mental checklist of how much you are eating.
  • Smart Step #4: Control temptation by keeping treats out of sight, not on your desk or in places you frequent.
  • Smart Step #5: Don’t skip meals to “make room” for food later. Skipping meals earlier in the day usually leads to over consumption of calories later. Be sure to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied, not stuffed.

Here’s just one example of a healthy holiday recipe that you can make:

Green Bean Casserole

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package pre-sliced button mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup Madeira wine or dry sherry
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup (about 2 ounces) canned fried onions (such as French's)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Place beans into a large saucepan of boiling water; cook 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well. Place beans in a large bowl; set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and thyme to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 10 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently. Stir in wine, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in chicken broth; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Add mushroom mixture to green beans; toss well. Place green bean mixture in a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Combine fried onions and grated cheese in a small bowl. Top green bean mixture evenly with fried onion mixture. Bake at 425° for 17 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Source: David Bonom, Cooking Light