Healthy Holiday Eating

Many of us fear the “holiday weight gain” due to all of the holiday parties, festivities, and dining out filled with friends and family and oftentimes centered around FOOD!! The food preparation is oftentimes “out of your hands,” which makes it hard to monitor calorie and fat intake (when you don’t know what’s in it!). Now that Halloween has passed and the “one day candy high” is over, it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving—the food preparation, meal planning and strategies to fight the weight gain!

Here are a few tips and lifestyle changes to fight the holiday weight gain:

  • Plan ahead and “budget your calorie intake” during the day, if you know you will be eating more at an evening event or party that night
  • Get moving! Exercise is key to keeping your metabolism up and weight maintenance. Choose a physical activity that you can do with a friend or family member and hold yourself accountable (at least 30 minutes a day!).
    • Ideas for staying active: take a walk or swim (if you have access to a heated pool) or play a sport of choice (tennis, golf, basketball, throw the baseball or football around with a friend or family member).
  • Bring a veggie side dish or salad (that way you can be 100% sure there will be something healthy at the party!)
    • “Courtney’s recommendation: Your best bet”: a serving of raw or blanched veggies with a low-calorie dip, hummus, or yogurt chive dip (Trader Joe’s) and a few small pieces of low-fat cheese. Don’t indulge on high-calorie or fried appetizers, on top of a heavy Thanksgiving dinner, which will make your blood sugar sky rocket!
  • Pay attention to your portions! Remember that even a “healthy” food can cause weight gain if you have 2-3+ portions of it in one sitting.

  • Keep your stress down! Excessive stress can cause your body to release cortisol, a hormone that can cause abdominal fat.
  • Make a colorful plate. Choose vibrant fruits and vegetables to add color to your plate, such as spinach or kale and pumpkin. Avoid the “all white looking plate” (i.e. mashed white potatoes, bread, turkey, stuffing and gravy).

Try pumpkins this season! Pumpkins are delicious and a great source of vitamin A, fiber, and potassium.

Pumpkins are a traditional part of many favorite holiday menus and a tasty way to add important vitamins into your diet. A pumpkin’s orange pulp is an excellent source of vitamin A and a great source of fiber and potassium.

**Pumpkin can be served cooked (roasted, baked, steamed), or made into soups, pies, or baked goods. Pumpkin seeds also make a great snack. They are high in iron and the “heart healthy fat” (unsaturated), which tends to lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels.

Healthy Pumpkin bread recipe (Eating Well): Yields 1 loaf. Serves 16. Enjoy with some hot cocoa or fresh apple cider.


  • 1 cup(s) (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup(s) pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/4 cup(s) canola oil
  • 1/3 cup(s) low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup(s) whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8 1/2″ by 4 1/2″ metal loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour.
    2. In large bowl, with wire whisk, combine brown sugar and egg whites. Add pumpkin, oil, yogurt, and vanilla extract; stir to combine.
    3. In medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture; stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
    4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert pumpkin bread onto wire rack; cool completely.

Nutrition Facts: (per serving): 140 calories, 4 grams total fat, 0 saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 165 mg sodium, 25 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein.

To learn more about how to stay fit and healthy through the Holidays, enjoy healthy recipes and keep a balance to your life, schedule a nutrition consultation or fitness training with Courtney Walberg, Registered Dietitian (certified by the American Dietetic Association) and Certified Personal Trainer (certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine). As you can see, Courtney enjoys pumpkins herself!