Healthy Holidays


A Dietitian’s Guide to Navigating Healthy Eating During the Holiday Season

Fall is in the air, as much as it can be here in South Texas, and with that comes all things pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon, with eggnog waiting just around the corner! The delicious smell of baked goods wafts through the air everywhere you turn. Pastries show up at work, friends deliver sweet treats, and scrumptious pies are readily available at our favorite restaurants. With all of its wonderfulness though, the holiday season tends to present a challenge for those keeping up a healthy lifestyle. To help us out with a holiday health plan, Brownsville dietitian Sandra Betancourt, RDN/LD of Certified Nutrition Consultants, PLLC  shared some helpful tips.


  • Reminder: You are NOT on a Diet


Portion control is your friend. Living a healthy lifestyle is not about restricting yourself altogether, but about making small changes each day. There is no good food and bad food, just moderation. Although, it is a good idea to start each meal with your vegetables.



  • Drink Water


As the weather cools down, albeit ever so slightly, we tend to drink less water than during the summer months because we don’t feel thirsty. At minimum, adults should drink 64 ounces of water each day. If you wait until you feel thirsty to reach for the water, you have already waited too long.



  • Dare I Say it? Exercise!


Just like brushing your teeth, exercise should be a part of your daily routine. Of course, we all know that exercise is important, and there is no getting around it. Find something you love that works for you and fit it into your schedule. You won’t regret it.


For some more specific recommendations, Sandra suggests the following:

  • Try to avoid fried foods and instead eat healthy fats like 15 almonds, ¼ cup sunflower seeds, or 25 peanuts to fill you up and give you energy. It is helpful to count or measure things out at first to get an idea of portion sizes. Once you can get used to it, you will have a better idea of what your body needs.
  • Meals should consist of 3 ounces of protein, two servings of veggies, and one to two servings of starches.
  • Careful with gravy! Putting a couple tablespoons of condiments like gravy and salad dressing on the side will generally help you to eat less of them.
  • For the holidays, we love to eat pie. Make a “V” with your pointer and middle finger to determine the correct portion for your slice of pie. Also, if you decide to splurge on dessert, limit other sugars, which includes fruits and alcohol, too.


Keep in mind, once January rolls around, we will all be making resolutions to get healthy in the new year. Go ahead and get a jump on your resolution and get started with your healthy lifestyle today. You’ll find that these small daily changes will make a significant difference, and you can really enjoy the holiday season to the fullest. Make a point to be aware of how you are treating your body, and your body will thank you. Betancourt suggests that you figure the reason why you want to make a change. Some decide to make a change because a doctor says they have to do so for their health, others want to be healthy so they can be examples for their children and even their grandchildren.

“You need to say, ‘this is what I want,’” Betancourt said. “It’s mind over body. Your mind will take you where your body cannot.” Sometimes her patients say it’s hard to accomplish committing to a healthy lifestyle. “Well, if it’s not hard, it’s not worth it. It’s possible — we’ll help you.”