Top 5 Holiday Eating Mistakes


Top 5 Holiday Eating Mistakes

Christmas is fast approaching. Tis the season to celebrate, spend time with loved ones and feel that child-like joyfulness. However, holiday parties and extravagant feasts often leave people feeling dread and the infamous fear of over-eating. Many of my clients worry about “going off the wagon” this time of year. They stress over how much they eat and/or what is being offered. They become curious about the top holiday eating mistakes.

Holiday Eating Mistakes

Let me remind you. Tis the season to celebrate food and togetherness, it’s not the time to get down on ourselves for not following a “perfect diet”. After all, there is NO such thing as a perfect diet. Eating for energy, enjoyment and nourishing your body in a way that feels good (and is sustainable) is the Dietetic Directions’ philosophy. Let’s ditch the deprivation and celebrate food this Christmas season.

Eat for energy, enjoyment & nourish your body in a way that feels good (& is sustainable) Click To Tweet


Today’s blog is a request from one of my clients. She was wondering about the most common holiday eating mistakes and strategies to tackle them. So grab onto Santa’s sleigh and get ready to fly around exploring some of the top holiday eating mistakes.



Andrea’s Top 5 Holiday Eating Mistakes


  1. “Stocking” up on Calories

Think of your body like a Million-dollar race horse; it runs on fuel (food) in order to perform best. Would you starve (or over-feed) your horse and expect it to win the race? Of course not. Thinking of our body as a prized horse (or car) helps people treat our body with respect and care. It also helps to prioritize nourishment as fuel.

Race Horse

One of the top holiday eating mistakes is depriving ourselves of food before and/or after the big Christmas meal. For example, Jenny states that because her family is having a large festive dinner, she plans to skip breakfast and lunch. This way, she can save calories for eating a big dinner. Yikes! Sounds like faulty Weight Watchers logic, where people stock up their points for one meal! This is a common holiday eating mistake because we are actually priming ourselves to overeat.


Skipping meals to save calories for #Christmas feast? Find out why this is a common eating mistake! Click To Tweet


The body, like a prized horse, runs best on consistent fuel (food). If we undereat or go long periods without eating (in preparation for a feast), the body goes into a mini “starvation mode”. The metabolic rate (metabolism) slows, the hunger hormones increase, and the body shifts to promote fat storage. Inevitably, our cravings become intensified and it’s impossible not to overeat.

Therefore, if you are looking to avoid weight gain and to have control over your food intake, skipping breakfast and/or lunch is not a good option.

Holiday Eating Mistakes


Dietitian Solution:

To prevent overeating as a result of skipping meals (a.k.a. feast or famine eating) ensure a regular eating routine. Grandma’s eating rule sticks; have three, nutritionally balanced meals a day. Avoid going longer than six hours without eating. Regularity in nourishing your body (or ‘prized horse’) will keep your body efficiently metabolizing fuel and prevent insatiable hunger. Keep in mind that it’s okay to enjoy smaller meals before Christmas dinner or add a snack (check out 3 tips to snack like a dietitian) if you are going long periods without eating. Click here to download Dietetic Directions’ 16 Health Snacks Handout.



  1. Too Low on Veggies

It is very easy to get caught up in holiday cookies, figgy pudding and forget to eat our veggies with the same level of enthusiasm and dedication. Eating too few veggies is a common holiday eating mistake. The benefits of eating more vegetables are non-disputable, but encouraging consumption can easily be overlooked. Click here to find out why we aren’t eating our veggies!


Getting enough veggies at your #Christmas dinner? Tips to deliciously boost them! Click To Tweet


Veggie Dip

Dietitian Solution:

If you are a guest or the host, make a DELICIOUS and festive veggie dish or platter. I say delicious because why not? Who wants to eat boring veggies? People eat with their eyes, so make a colourful display to draw attention. Filling up on fibre and antioxidant-rich veggies is a great way to moderate consumption. Here are some of my favourite veggie recipe ideas to bring to your Christmas celebration: pomegranate goat cheese kale salad, crunchy garlic & parmesean asparagus, 3 ingredient roasted cauliflower.




  1. Overeating the Appetizers

I’m so guilty of this one! The appetizers are just so tasty and plentiful – it can be difficult to stop! Appetizers also add up quickly (and unknowingly) when we are distracted talking to others or watching Christmas movies.


Dietitian Solution:

To prevent overeating appetizers, serve yourself on a small plate or napkin. This normalizes the portion instead of serving yourself on a plate, where we prime our bodies to finish this portion. Research shows that we serve ourselves more on a larger plate and we also tend to eat on average 92% of what we serve ourselves (Brian Wansink, Cornell University). Therefore, a plate that is smaller makes the same amount of food look like more!


DYK: We eat ~92% of what we serve ourselves!? Healthy eating tips 4 x-mas! Click To Tweet


The next step to avoid overdoing it on apps is to park your sleigh AWAY from the appetizers! Standing by the serving table prompts us to continue eating, regardless of how full we feel. If you are situated away from the appetizer table, you can enjoy your appetizer(s) and come back for seconds (or thirds) with intention instead of mindlessly. Another strategy is to check in with your body to rate how you are feeling and how hungry you are. For example, checking in with yourself and finding your hunger rating, allows you to choose how much to eat based on your how your body feels. This is an intuitive eating strategy.




  1. Losing Track of Liquid Calories

This mistake easily sneaks up on you because liquids do not activate our stomach’s full receptors. Quite simply, the act of eating (chewing and stomach expanding) signals to the brain that calories have been ingested. However, liquid calories do not register on this radar system. In fact, research shows that when we add liquid calories to meals, we do not compensate by eating less food. Click here to find the nutritional comparison of popular alcoholic and festive beverages.


Holiday Eating Mistakes


Liquid calories add up a lot faster than if we consumed the same number of calories in food. Click To Tweet


Dietitian Solution:

Many of my clients find it helpful to decide before the party how much they plan to drink. They decide on the spacing of beverages throughout the evening. For example, you might plan on having three beverages and spacing them apart. Have one with appetizers, one with dinner and another with dessert. This means that you will have to decline other beverages offered to stay on track. This sounds simplistic, but is a very effective way to bring mindfulness to how much you are consuming. Also, be sure to also hydrate yourself with lots of water throughout the evening.

Christmas Tree

Discover how you can tackleTop 5 Holiday Eating Mistakes! Click To Tweet


  1. Feeling Sluggish & Laying down

After a big meal, many people comment on wanting to just lay down or go to sleep. There’s nothing wrong with taking time over Christmas to put your feet up. However, tuning into your body and prioritizing movement in a way that feels good is an important consideration.

Dog sleeping

Dietitian Solution:

To help fight the sluggish feeling, check in with your body to see how it feels and what it needs. I am not a fan of exercising for weight loss, I am a proponent of exercising for how it makes your body FEEL! This is also a sustainable way of keeping to a routine that feels good and there are so many benefits to being active (i.e., heart health, mental health, energy level).

Over the holiday season, check in with your body to determine the need for movement. You might notice that your muscles feel very tight and a yoga class would be helpful and relaxing. You might find yourself bloated after a meal and notice that a walk around the block feels good. Then do that.




Bottom Line:

Christmas is a time to enjoy the season, food and the togetherness. To avoid the top five holiday eating mistakes be sure to keep to a regular eating routine, enjoy extra veggies, portion appetizers and change your proximity to the serving area. Be mindful of liquid calories and finally move your body in a way that feels good. Listening to your body and honouring the signals of hunger or desire are respectful and loving ways of embracing a healthy relationship with foods.


Now’s your turn! How do you like to spend your Christmas season? What are your favourite food traditions? Any strategies to help you feel great?

santa christmas