Canada's food guide

Healthy eating for holidays and events

It can be a challenge to make healthy choices during special occasions and events that involve food. Use these strategies to make healthy choices.

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Food plays an important role during holidays and events

Most people think of traditional holidays as the time they celebrate by gathering with friends and family to enjoy food. There are actually many more frequent events where we celebrate with food. Think about:

  • anniversaries
  • birthday parties
  • harvest celebrations
  • wedding celebrations
  • social events with friends
  • school celebrations, like graduations
  • neighbourhood or community gatherings
  • work or school parties for smaller holidays like Valentine’s Day or Halloween

These occasions have many benefits. They allow you to:

  • eat with others
  • enjoy your food
  • share and learn food skills
  • share cultural and food traditions

Sometimes, the food and drinks offered and consumed at these events are:

  • high in
    • sodium
    • sugars
    • saturated fat
  • served with alcohol and other high-calorie drinks

It’s important to remember that the foods you eat regularly at these events are a part of your eating pattern.

5 strategies for healthy eating

Use these 5 strategies to help you make healthier food choices during the holidays or other social events.

  1. Choose and offer healthier foods

    As much as possible, stick to healthy foods you would normally choose. This applies when you are:

    • hosting an event
    • attending a gathering
    • preparing a dish to share

    Try to:

    • choose whole grain foods
    • make water your drink of choice
    • have plenty of vegetables and fruits

    Preparing dishes with these foods can help ensure you are providing and making a healthier choice.

    Special holiday versions of highly processed foods are often available and on sale during the holidays. Where possible, limit these and other highly processed foods. If you choose these foods, choose them in smaller amounts.

  2. Be mindful

    Usually during celebrations or events there is a lot going on. It is easy to get distracted while eating.

    Think about your habits at social gatherings. Remember to:

    • Take time to eat
      • Find space where you can sit down and focus on what you are eating
    • Pay attention to your food choices
      • When there is lots of food available or served throughout an event it can be hard to keep track. Where possible, choose healthy foods and drinks.
    • Notice your feelings of hunger and fullness
      • There are many reasons you may feel the need to eat or drink during a party. Make your food choices based on your hunger level.
  3.  Enjoy your food

    It’s important that you enjoy your food. This is especially true during holidays and events when the food that is offered or served may serve a cultural or traditional purpose. Eating foods you like without judgement can help you develop a healthy attitude about food.

    Instead of feeling like you are missing out when it comes to less healthy food choices, have a smaller portion and take the time to savour it.

  4.  Think about your drink

    Drinks can add additional calories, sodium, sugars or saturated fat to your meal. This is true for non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic drinks.

    Enjoy carbonated water with added flavour from fruit. Plain coffee and tea can also be an option.

  5.  Think beyond food to celebrate

    Celebrate with an activity. Try:

    • going for a hike
    • playing your favourite game
    • an outdoor activity like skating or biking

Visit the Food guide for life for tips to:

  • Choose a healthy drink
  • Make healthy choices when eating out
  • Eat healthy during the winter holidays

Further reading

Date modified: 2019-01-14