How to Make Healthier Holiday Choices


How to Make Healthier Holiday Choices

Family, friends & holiday traditions call for gathering around the dinner table all season long! While the holiday season brings so much love and cheer, it can also bring about stress over managing weight and chronic disease. 

Routines are typically askew or thrown off entirely when it comes to holiday parties and spending extra time with family. Here are my top tips on how to make healthier holiday choices!

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1. Enjoy the foods that matter to you

It’s only natural to want to enjoy all of the special dishes and desserts that are only around for a limited time. It can be all too easy to get caught up at the big family dinner or the workplace potluck and fill up your plate with every single option! 

Family gathering at festive table.

Before serving yourself at your next big gathering, take a quick scan of all the options. Is there a dish that you genuinely look forward to eating every year? Or is there something you feel tempted to grab “just because”? Ask yourself these questions before building your plate. Indulge in the dishes that you love, but skip over the items you think you are only grabbing out of convenience. 

If you’re still worried about missing out, remember you can always take home leftovers! Bring an extra container in your bag whenever going to social functions just in case. This way, you can enjoy your favorite items later and you don’t feel the need to overindulge. Here is one of my favorite glass bento boxes* to pack leftovers.

2.  Avoid skipping meals

There is no need to try to compensate for extra calories at one meal by eliminating another! As it is, skipping meals is an unhealthy habit that can disrupt metabolism. It can be even more unhealthy for someone with diabetes who needs to be aware of their blood sugar levels throughout the day. 

Variety of foods items  placed on a wooden plate.

Having a healthy, balanced breakfast is the best way to start your day no matter what other big meal you have planned later on in the day. Be sure to check blood sugar levels regularly and as needed when indulging in extra holiday treats!

 3. Bring your own healthy dish to the party

It can be hard to predict what the menu is going to be when you’re not the host! Make sure you have a safe option to choose from when going to a family or friend’s dinner. This is one of the easiest things you can do to make healthier holiday choices!

Mashed potatoes on a round grey plate next to silverware.

Double-boiled mashed potatoes is a classic option that everyone is sure to love but is just as enjoyable for those with Chronic Kidney Disease needing to watch their potassium intake! Boiling potatoes twice reduces the amount of potassium in half! Short on time? Sheet-pan roasted fall vegetables are a one-pan clean-up and require little hands-on time! 

 4. Don’t let the cold stop you from moving

It can be difficult to find the motivation during this time of year to get outside. The sun sets earlier, the air is cold, and snow on the ground is no warm welcome! 

Person jogging.

Instead, explore other options for getting movement in your day. If you don’t have a gym membership, take a trip to your local mall and walk some laps (you might even get some holiday shopping done at the same time). Try a new online workout video at home, or combine a chore and workout in one by doing some snow shoveling or leaf raking! 

5.  Make wise beverage choices

With thousands of drink choices at our fingertips, it can be overwhelming to make a decision. How do you make the healthier holiday choice? Do a double-take. First, look at the sugar content on the nutrition label. Then, check the number of servings in the container. If you have CKD, you may also want to look at the potassium and sodium levels as many sodas have potassium as a preservative. 

Next, consider the total amount of sugar you’d be consuming by multiplying the amount of sugar by how many servings you think you would realistically have. Take this into consideration and how it might affect your blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes.

Variety of beverages placed on a blue background with a person grabbing a cup of water.

Seek lower-sugar or sugar-free options of the same beverage when available, or try diluting certain drinks with water like lemonade or cider to reduce the sugar content. 

Be sure to also regularly check with your doctor about any necessary fluid restrictions you may need to be following, especially if you have heart disease or CKD. 

 6. Continually check blood pressure & blood sugar

With extra indulging typically comes higher sodium and sugar intake. Both of these can affect blood pressure and blood sugar fairly quickly! 

Person holding a black tube to check blood pressure.

At-home blood pressure cuffs* are easy to find and can be bought online or in stores for under $30. Make sure you are also stocked up on glucose test strips during this time as you may be going through them more often than normal. 

7.  Give yourself grace

As mentioned at the start, these times can add a lot of stress over how to make healthier holiday choices. Give yourself grace when it comes to managing your weight. You are likely to be thrown off your normal routine and no one expects you to be perfect! 

Woman in a purple shirt eating.

Stressing over making the right decision 24/7 will only leave you feeling guilty about making the wrong choice or wondering what you could’ve done to make your good choice even better. Take this time to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones! 


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Registered Dietitian with over 10 years of experience sharing nutrition knowledge that you can use to enjoy food again

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