Holiday Eating: Healthy Holidays Spelled F-U-N

by Marsha Hudnall MS, RDN, CD

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Healthy Holiday Eating | Healthy Food for the HolidaysHealthy holidays. If we use the typical definition of healthy, putting the words “healthy” and “holidays” together doesn’t seem to bode well for a festive season. Fortunately, we use a different definition at Green Mountain! It’s spelled F-U-N and stands for:

  • F – Fully participating in life without worries about body size.  
  • U – Using our internal cues to guide us in making the right choices for us.
  • N – Normal eating as the goal.

Fully participating in life without worries about body size.

Weight worries take the F-U-N out of living any time, not the least of which is during the holidays. Instead of focusing on weight, change your focus to feeling good. Key to feeling good is enjoyment. During the holidays, that usually means taking part in our traditions, even if they involve calorie-rich foods and beverages.

Read our “How to Eat Healthy & Enjoy the Holidays” for steps to eating the foods you love in a way that feels well.  Our very popular FitBriefing “Accept Your Wonderful Self” also gives food for thought about how giving up the focus on weight can help us better achieve what we want to make all our days happier.

Using our internal cues to guide us in making the right choices for us.

The extraordinary machine that is the human body didn’t evolve by counting calories, points, steps or whatever modern tools that have been devised to control our eating and exercise. While those tools may work for a few, and for more temporarily, for most of us they don’t work long-term because control as it is commonly thought of often conflicts with what our bodies really need.

That said, today’s world of highly-processed foods, sedentary lifestyles and over-the-top stress can leave our bodies pretty confused about what they need. To get a start on making the right and F-U-N choices for you any time of year, check out our FitBriefing on structured eating. Also read the sidebar on eating healthy during the holildays again; it focuses on how to use our internal cues to eat healthy and still eat what we want.  Then read it again.

Normal eating as the goal.

“Normal eating, like you did before you started to worry about your weight, eating what you want, eating more of the cookies now because they taste so wonderful when they are fresh, or leaving some on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow…. “

These words come directly from Ellyn Satter’s pioneering definition of normal eating, which is the basis for making choices that are right for us. Because if we aren’t normal eaters, we get caught up in emotions such as guilt and regret, that take us away from being able to hear our internal cues and decide what’s best and F-U-N for us at any one time.

How to Have F-U-N & Healthy Holidays

F – Forward ho! Set your life switch to GO! Do what makes you happy. Whenever doubts/negative thoughts arise, use the thought-stopping technique to help you get the most out of your holidays.

U – Unlock your potential! Resolve to participate in all the holidays have to offer while taking care of yourself. Replace “can’t have” with “do I want?” and “it’s my choice.” Expand the definition of “want” to include how you feel, whether we’re thinking about what we want to eat, whether we want to exercise or if we just want some me time.

N – Now is the time! Mindfulness is about living in the moment. The special moments of the holidays will come and go before we know it. Savor them for what they are and what they represent. Remember the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, mindful living guru:

“The past is already gone; the future is not here yet. We only have the present moment. If we miss the present moment, we miss our appointment with life.”


Denying ourselves the foods of the season doesn’t work for the vast majority of us; it only sets us up for overeating, even bingeing.

So what do we do when we don’t know how to eat the foods we love in a way that makes us feel well?

Try this:

  • Listen to your body as you eat. As you eat that piece of pie, pay attention to how it tastes, how it makes your body feel.
  • Before taking a second piece, wait a bit. You can still have it if you want it. Promise yourself that!
  • Check in with yourself. Are you still hungry? How does your stomach feel? How does your body feel? Sluggish, over full, just right? If you eat another piece of pie right now, will it make you feel better or worse? What if you wait 15 minutes? If we wait, often we forget that instant urge, realize we are full or realize if we eat any more, our bodies may feel uncomfortable, stuffed, in short, unhappy. Is that how we want to feel? It’s our choice. We CAN have more later when we won’t feel that way when we eat more.

Happy holidays, everyone!