By Heather McIver, Registered Dietitian 

Around November 25th each year I start hearing from each of my clients how hard it is to keep healthy habits during the holidays and they aren’t referring to the week of December 25th. Generally, they are referring to approximately November 25-January 7, quite a holiday indeed! And as bizarre of a year as this has been, I’ve already started to hear it with people trying to embody that holiday cheer earlier than ever. That can present quite a challenge to protecting your health goals when you have a 6 week long celebration to tend to.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help stay true to your health over the holidays while still enjoying that holiday cheer:

1) Just say NO!

This is my number one favourite rule for anyone who wants to try to create or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes, you just have to say a firm ‘no.’ Or no thank you, since we live in PEI. There is nothing wrong with wanting to assert yourself to respect your own personal needs.

Friend: “Have another drink/peanut butter ball/sugar cookie, what is one more!?”

You: “No thank you”

Friend: “Come on, what is more!?”

You: “No thank you….. (see number 2)”

2) Set boundaries for yourself

Unfortunately, sometimes our friends and families like to push our boundaries if we come unarmed without a reasonable explanation for not participating in something food/drink related. Do you want to watch your intake of sweets because your reflux flares up and makes you feel sick? Or do you try to limit alcohol intake because you get a bad case of the blues the next day and have decided that doesn’t fit your lifestyle anymore? Remind yourself of your own personal boundaries and assert them right after your “no thank you’s.”

Friend: “Have another drink/peanut butter ball/sugar cookie, what is one more!?”

You: “No thank you”

Friend: “Come on, what is more!?”

You: “No thank you, I have committed myself to just one peanut butter ball because my health suffers when I overdo it, but I promise I’m still having a great time even with just one peanut butter ball!”

3) Ditch the guilt

Night didn’t go as planned? Holiday cheer took over? Don’t punish yourself for yesterday’s plum pudding because skipping breakfast or lunch today will certainly not un-do said pudding. Under eating today will only lead you to feeling more hungry and more at risk for overeating. Instead, remind yourself that eating a festive dessert at a party is a completely normal eating behavior and move on. Plan out some healthy meals and snacks for the day and honor today’s needs.

4) Hydrate

It is one of the easiest of all of the steps but also very commonly forgotten. Many party foods involve more salt and alcohol than you are used to so try to mix in some water throughout the event, your next day will thank you.

5) Eat regular meals.

Just like you should not skip meals after an event, also try not to skip meals in preparation for a big event because hungry people never make good decisions. Arriving to a gathering feeling like you just traveled through the desert for 3 days with no food or fluids will never end well. If you have a dinner party, don’t skimp on breakfast and lunch just to “save up.” Instead, choose to nourish your body the same way you would on a day without a dinner party which will help you to choose the portion sizes your regular brain wants and not your hangry one.

6) Don’t save nutrition for a New Year’s Resolution.

Try not to treat December like one big cheat day that you’re going to fix on “Monday” aka January 1. That is a lot of pressure for any one day to take on and often leads people to feelings of disappointment when they don’t instantly hop on that resolution train that they were certain that they would be on. Look at December and decide where meal planning, exercise, and hydration can fit in between the events and shopping. If you are looking for a space, I am certain there will be one! 


If you looking to get away from the “all or nothing” mindset with your food and exercise and need help, give me a call. I focus on teaching people how to best nourish themselves, plan out meals, manage their hunger/fullness throughout the day, and provide some accountability. Feel free to reach out at or 902-370-3146.