The Center for Eating Disorders Blog

Nutrition Tips for a Healthy and Happy Holiday!


  • Be sure to start your holiday off right by giving your body what it needs at breakfast.  People are often tempted to skip breakfast when they anticipate a large meal later in the day, but depriving yourself of breakfast will potentially set you up for a binge at the holiday meal.
  • There are often multiple food options available at holiday meals which can be very overwhelming when preparing your plate.  Remind yourself that you are not obligated to try every dish or to take one of everything.  Instead, plan to choose 1-2 items from each food group to create a balanced meal.
  • In preparing your plate, it can be helpful to remember appropriate portion sizes as suggested by the Food Guide Pyramid. One easy way to size up portions is to use your hand.  A clenched fist is about a cup, and a cup is the amount recommended for a portion of pasta, rice, cereal, vegetables, and fruit. A meat portion should be about as big as your palm. For more information on portion sizes, visit:
  • Plan to allow yourself to eat “treats” and “extras”.  This is socially and psychologically healthy!
  • Listen to your body!  During the holiday season, meals are often frenzied and fast-paced, and it becomes very easy to neglect your hunger and fullness signals.  Plan several ways to remind yourself to pause and be mindful of your body’s natural cues before, during and after the meal.
  • It can be helpful to call the host or hostess ahead of time to find out what will be on the holiday menu.  Knowing the menu in advance can help you plan your meal and ensure that there will be options that you feel comfortable eating.  If necessary, you can offer to bring a dish that will increase your comfort level with the meal.
  • Plan for how you will deal with possible discomfort around feelings of fullness; distract yourself by engaging in a positive coping activity such as playing a game, walking the dog, writing in a journal or enjoying the company of friends and family.
  • Talk to other family members in advance about not pushing food or commenting on diets, calories, or weight loss.  Asking a parent or another supportive family member to spread this request can also be helpful.
  • Don’t forget about the day after your holiday meal!  Plan to meet a friend for your meals the next day to help you resist the urge to skip meals or compensate for any slip-ups that occurred during the holiday.

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