Healthy eating choices during holidays

by Katelin Whiddon

The holidays are a great time to enjoy family and friends, and it seems that many celebrations are centered on food. As we spend our days enjoying our loved ones, we typically enjoy that food throughout the whole day. If we can try to make healthier decisions in our food, perhaps we can enjoy that time and not be left feeling guilty and miserable for overindulging. Teaching our children these same things will help prevent them from forming those bad habits, too.

Over time, snacking and “munching” has become more and more common and even mindless eating at times. Many times, these foods we carelessly eat on are not the best options. Chips, dip, crackers, candies and cookies are just a few of the “snacky” foods that often accompany get-togethers. Some healthier alternatives may be fruit, vegetables, cheese or even nuts (obviously taking into account no allergies are present). Even better, we can try to use some self-control and not eat “just to eat,” but rather wait for the meal.

Make sure to drink plenty of water, also. Keeping yourself full on water will decrease your hunger so you are less likely to snack during the day. Drinking water throughout the day helps to keep you feeling full longer and hopefully less likely to snack “just because.”

Try not to sit down all day long. Standing on your feet and moving can help burn off excess calories and discourage you from sitting down and snacking much of the day.

Try bringing healthier snacks to holiday gatherings. You can’t always control what others bring, so knowing that you have healthier options will help keep you on the right track. Bring your child’s favorite fruits also to give them sweet options without only limiting that to unhealthy sweets.

Try encouraging healthy eating in children by using colors. Teach your children to select colors to put on their plate. A good number to aim towards is four colors. Green options might include salads, broccoli, grapes, beans or peas. Red foods may be tomatoes, apples, watermelon, strawberries or peppers. While white/brown may include breads, pasta or potatoes, it can also include lean meat, whole grain rice, cauliflower, other beans or hard boiled eggs. Yellow and orange foods may include squash, cheese, peaches, oranges, bananas or carrots. The options are endless, so be creative! This activity can be great for preschoolers as they are learning to identify colors as well.

I know I look forward to enjoying time with my family and friends through the holidays and hope you all do, too! Let’s make this year a new year of healthy traditions and passing those habits on to our children as well. 


A Conway native, Katelin Whiddon is a nurse practitioner at the Conway wound clinic for Arkansas Heart Hospital. She and her husband, Daniel, have two daughters. A University of Central Arkansas graduate, she has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and works in pediatrics.