Staying Healthy During The Holidays

Cassie Iannello APD, RD


As the holiday season quickly approaches us, so does the festive office parties and endless feasts with family and friends. While it is one of the most joyful times of the year, some may feel the nervous anticipation of the extra kilos gained that can come with it. Here are some tips to enjoy yourself while still staying healthy this holiday season.

Focus on volume: It’s easy to overeat when distracted with good conversation or entertainment. Rather than staring at an empty plate while your friends and family are feasting, fill up half your plate with veggies so you can mindlessly munch, without getting carried away with empty calories. Consider bringing a delicious, but nutrient-dense dish like the one below:

Avoid the hangover: Aim for sugar-free cocktails such as vodka lime soda. Use fruit, herbs, or spices to give your cocktails flavour rather than syrups and take advantage of mixers such as club soda, sugar-free lemonade, or diet soda. Drinking water in between each alcoholic beverage can help slow you down and stay hydrated so you’re not waking up with a nasty headache the next morning!

Have your cake and eat it too: Skipping meals and “saving” your calories for a party, later on, can be self-sabotaging, as you’re more likely to overeat the foods you were saving up for. Instead, eat balanced, nutritious meals while at home rather than arriving at a party on an empty stomach. This will ensure you’ve consumed the vitamins and minerals your body needs while preventing the overindulgence of your favourite treats.

Take advantage of the sunshine: Consider outdoor activities for your next social gathering with family or friends, such as bike riding, sand volleyball, or swimming in the pool. Not only will you get quality time with your loved ones, but the exercise will boost your cardiovascular health and getting your daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun will lift your mood.

Unsure what to bring to your next get together? Check out the delicious healthy festive recipes below. By keeping ourselves on track over the festive season, we can all emerge in January healthy, happy, and ready to tackle a Happy New Year.

Wanting more individualized guidance on tackling the holidays or your health goals? Our newest dietitian, Cassie, is here to help you navigate your health journey and optimize your mood and well-being with food and lifestyle changes.  For more details or to schedule your appointment, contact our office at 08 6381 0297

Substitutions to cut down the Kilojoules

Instead of This…Try This…And save…
Handful Chips or PeanutsPretzels159kJ
1 Tbsp Sour Cream and Chives DipLow fat hummus or Tzatsiki dip220kJ
2 Chocolate rum ballsChocolate dipped cherries (50g)598kj
1 tbsp gravyLight Apple or Cranberry sauce366kJ
1 slice puddingFruity pavlova588kJ

Cranberry Mojito:


  • 1/2 lime, quartered (plus extra for garnish)
  • 6 to 7 mint leaves (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (use a sugar-free sweetener with a 1:1 sugar ratio)
  • 2 oz light rum or vodka
  • 2-1/2 oz cranberry juice (diet cranberry juice)
  • Ice
  • 2 to 3 oz tonic water (sugar-free diet tonic water)


  1. Place lime wedges and mint in the bottom of a glass. Add sugar.
  2. Muddle (mush) the limes and mint together (about 6 to 8 twists).
  3. Add rum or vodka, and cranberry juice.
  4. Fill glass with ice. Top off with tonic water. Give it a stir. Adjust with additional lemon juice if desired.
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.


Roast Pumpkin Salad


Salad ingredients:


  • 600 g pumpkin skin removed and cut into slices or chunks
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 75 g pine nuts
  • 150 g baby spinach leaves
  • 80 g feta crumbled into small chunks

Dressing ingredients:

  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (fan-forced).
  2. Chop the pumpkin into small slices or chunks and remove the skin.
  3. Drizzle a flat baking tray with olive oil, add the pumpkin pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender (but not too soft). Set aside.
  5. Place the pine nuts into a small frying pan over low/medium heat. Cook, while stirring regularly, until lightly golden (keep a close eye on them as they can easily burn). Set aside.
  6. Layer the baby spinach, pumpkin, pine nuts and feta cheese in a serving bowl or dish.
  7. To make the dressing, place the honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk with the fork until combined.
  8. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss to combine and serve immediately.

Fresh Mango Salsa:

Serve with corn chips, on tacos, or as a salad itself

  • 3 ripe mangos, diced (see photos)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 large lime, juiced (about ¼ cup lime juice)
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste


  1. In a serving bowl, combine the prepared mango, bell pepper, onion, cilantro and jalapeño. Drizzle with the juice of one lime.
  2. Using a large spoon, stir the ingredients together. Season to taste with salt, and stir again. For best flavour, let the salsa rest for 10 minutes or longer

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