Ask a Nutritionist: Nutrition Over the Holidays

Welcome back to our Ask a Nutritionist series featuring the Wel Nourished team! In this four-part wellness series, we are answering all your burning health questions, debunking food myths, and sharing resources to help you discover a happier health journey! In part one the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at Wel answered some common food, health, and nutrition questions. In part two, the team at Wel helped us discover the basis of how our nutrition can impact our mental health and the physical health of our brain. In part three, the Wel Nourished team shared their tips and tricks on keeping the family healthy during the summer time! In this final part of our wellness series, you will find tips and tricks from the Wel Nourished Registered Dietitian Nutritionists on how to maintain healthy habits and practice balance over the holidays!

Alyssa Justice, RDN

Summer is coming to a close, and that means the holidays are coming soon! The holidays season is filled with family gatherings, activities, gifts, and traditions. Amidst all the fun, the holidays can easily become overwhelming and bring stress for many. Below the Registered Dietitians at Wel share some helpful tips and advice on how to stay healthy and enjoy the holidays stress-free!

What is your favorite fall fruit and favorite winter citrus?

My favorite fall fruit would have to be apples! I love eating them as a healthy snack with peanut butter, but also in delicious holiday desserts. My favorite winter citrus are oranges. We have an orange tree in our backyard that produces the sweetest fruit each winter. I am already looking forward to picking them on Christmas morning!

What is your best advice when it comes to coping with the stress of the holiday season while also trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

With the excitement of the holiday season there can be times of stress that accompany it. The hustle and bustle of shopping, endless events, the pressure of ordering presents early enough to make sure they arrive on time, cooking for and hosting loved ones, the list goes on and on. On top of it all, trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle can seem like a daunting task. Here are my best tips to cope with stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the holidays.

Learning exactly what is causing the stress is the first step to managing it.

Take the pressure off of yourself to perform perfectly in every part of your life during this time, give yourself grace.

Pick a healthy eating and exercise routine that is realistic and works specifically for you and your family. 

Enjoy the season and the fun treats that come with it, in moderation.

No healthy lifestyle is achievable and can stick around if it isn’t enjoyable and realistic. Stress can cause a plethora of health issues and can contribute to weight gain. Do your best to manage your stress this holiday season while setting realistic expectations for yourself and watch how much you enjoy it! Happy Holidays! 

What is your best advice and encouragement you have for women who want to make healthy eating decisions but also don’t want to feel restricted during the holiday season?

Holiday traditions are often centered around our favorite treats. We wait all year for a taste of those secret family recipes that can transport us back to some of our most cherished memories. So it seems cruel to miss out on enjoying those fun holiday foods for the sake of healthy eating, doesn’t it? I agree! Restriction during the holiday season is not necessarily the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here are three tips for healthy eating during the holidays:

Stick with a Healthy Plate:

At Wel, we are firm believers that a healthy plate is made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. This plate doesn’t have to change during the holiday season. You will inevitably be consuming more calories at a holiday event then you would at your home, and that is OKAY! Even though you will be enjoying foods that are higher in calories you can still maintain a healthy plate. I would encourage you to continue to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, a quarter of your plate protein, and a quarter of your plate starch. Your fruits and vegetables might look like salad, green bean casserole, fruit, or roasted brussel sprouts. Whatever fruits and veggies are available make sure that is the largest portion of your plate. Next, protein might look like turkey, ham, or prime rib. Whatever protein is available make that a quarter of your plate and feel free to mix and match! Starch is going to be the most challenging because our holiday meals are so starch heavy. We love our stuffing, mashed potatoes, and don’t even get me started on those warm dinner rolls! Add a small portion of your favorite starches and attempt to make them a quarter of your plate. Remember, your plate doesn’t have to look picture perfect and if you have to choose between enjoying the dinner roll or leaving it behind because you’ve already used your “quarter of the plate” on mashed potatoes, that’s okay! Just add the dinner roll! It’s all about maintaining the habit of portioning your plate. One larger calorie meal will not ruin all of the healthy meals you had the day before. 

Make Your Other Meals Count: 

Now I know that the holiday season is so incredibly busy. We are running from one party to the next and trying to get all of our Christmas shopping done in between. Despite our busy schedules we still need to be thoughtful about the meals and snacks we are consuming. Since we aren’t going to enter our family parties and holiday gatherings with a restrictive mindset, we need to be sure to make the most of our daily meals. For example, if you have a holiday party in the evening make sure you are eating a healthy breakfast and lunch. You do not need to restrict calories or eat less than you normally would during these meals. Remember, a nonrestrictive approach to the holidays does not include skipping meals to “make up” for higher calories meals. Instead, it is an opportunity to get in extra fruits and vegetables since parties are typically lacking these healthy options. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to drink more water since higher calorie beverages are often served at family gatherings. Being mindful of your daily meals and snacks will help keep you in the habit of eating healthy options despite the boom in your social calendar. 

Eat the Dessert: 

Now this tip isn’t exclusive to dessert, but we often feel guilty for enjoying our favorite sweet treats during the holiday season. So if you’re more of a savory girl, like myself, then this applies to you too! Don’t focus on avoiding your favorite foods during holiday parties and family gatherings. Instead, cut yourself a slice of your favorite pie or enjoy your grandmother’s sweet potato casserole because if you attempt to skip out on those holiday favorites, you will likely give in and binge on these foods later on at the party. A healthy mindset is essential when it comes to enjoying our favorites. If we think that we need large portions of these once a year favorites just because we don’t get them all the time then we enter the season with a scarcity mindset that tells our bodies we need to serve large portions because we only get this “once a year.” If we come into the holiday season with the mindset that these foods, though special and seasonal, will also be here next year then we are less likely to serve larger portions to ourselves and can enjoy these foods without guilt.

What is your favorite healthy holiday meal and/or treat?

My favorite healthy holiday meal is my Harvest Salad. I love this salad because you will likely have a lot of these ingredients on hand during fall and winter. Plus, when it’s cold outside you need something not just healthy, but hearty!

Harvest Salad Recipe


  • 2-4 cups of your favorite greens (I usually use baby kale or spinach)
  • 1 cup roasted sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup roasted brussel sprouts 
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese or goat cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • apple cider vinaigrette to taste


  1. Prepare the ingredients, combine, and serve
  2. Enjoy! 

What are your favorite healthy holiday tradition and/or activity you do with your family?

On Christmas day, we spend the entire day at my in-laws. After a morning filled with lots of delicious food, activities, and family, most of us are pretty tired in the afternoon and need a pick-me-up before the big dinner. Over the years, many of us have decided to go on a walk to get in some fresh air and exercise. I have loved getting outside in the middle of the day and always end up coming back more refreshed for the remainder of the day’s activities. 

What is one thing someone could do today in order to stay healthy during the holiday season?

Building habits that are natural and can eventually be subconsciously implemented into your everyday life is the ultimate goal. One habit I think you should start now is t make sure that you add in a fruit of vegetable at every meal. This is a simple way to add more nutrients and fiber into your diet and can help you have a healthy holiday season. I always tell my clients during the holidays to make sure that they add a fruit or vegetable to every meal, even if it is cooked differently, and likely in a less healthy way than you are used to. This will ensure that you are still getting in some nutrients while also enjoying your favorite holiday foods. For more tips about healthy eating during the holiday season, meet with a Wel dietitian.

We hope that you found this conversation on nutrition over the holidays encouraging and inspiring! This was the final topic of our part four Ask a Nutritionist series! In case you missed the others, head over to the rest of our blog posts. Stay in the know with all the organic happenings over on Instagram and give the team at Wel a follow for more wellness and nutrition tips. If you have more questions to ask a nutritionist, leave a comment below! You never know, it may inspire a continuation of the series 😉