December 17, 2010


Healthy Gluten-Free Holiday Tips

This is a guest post from Cheryl Harris of Gluten Free Goodness and Harris Whole Health.

I’m delighted to stop by here right in time for the holidays. Linda has done such a great job to support our happy little (but growing) gluten-free community, especially with Gluten-free Wednesdays. I’ve been hosting a weekly menu plan on my website for the past few years (although we’re much smaller) and everyone is of course welcome to stop by and get inspiration there, too!

So, I love to bake, cook and eat…and I’m a dietitian and nutritionist. It’s all about finding the right balance between the delights of food and friends and eating well to feel great throughout the holidays. Since we’re smack in the middle of eating (and shopping) season, here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy the spirit of the season and favorite holiday foods, while staying reasonably healthy, too.

Holiday Tips

Get Prepared: It's not fun to sit in a room full of people eating delicious (off-limits) foods while you sit quietly drinking your water and nibbling a carrot stick.  It’s also a recipe for a rebound binge at home. Have a 2 pack of gluten-free cookies, Clementines, or your favorite chocolate stashed away at work, or bring an apple crisp, chocolate covered strawberries or meringues along with you to a party. Check out this list of naturally gluten-free and seriously delicious options.  Make sure your children have treats at school so they don't feel left out, either.

eating a strawberry Savor: Bottom line, you’re going to eat some treats this holiday season, so you might as well truly enjoy them. Be choice-ful and target things you enjoy most (i.e. no filling up on chips or every day foods unless those are the only options). When you eat, really eat! Take time to fill your senses and really enjoy. When we are really tasting our food (rather than inhaling something while talking and multitasking) food tastes much better, we’re more satisfied and full quicker. 
 Image via

Balance: If you are going to a holiday party in the evening, make an extra effort to eat well on other days. Add in more vegetables, fruits, beans, gluten-free whole grains, etc. and move more, too! A piece of chocolate cake one day won't make or break a diet, but treats every day will add up.

fresh fruitMove the goodies out of sight: One of the biggest challenges of the season is a see-food diet, otherwise known as "if I see it, I eat it". Studies show that when people keep food out of sight, they eat less. Avoid the constant temptation. Instead, put fruits on the counter or in your refrigerator where they are easy to grab. Seasonal fruits in the winter months include Clementines, oranges, pineapples, grapefruits, grapes, pomegranates, persimmons, mangos, and more.

Fill your table with fruit and veggie dishes: Have your holiday meals feature seasonal vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, collards or other greens. Make roasted chestnuts as a snack. Have a fruit inspired dessert, like baked apples, poached pears, sautéed bananas, etc.

Soups: As long as they're not cream based, most soups are a healthy snack or part of a filling meal. Chicken and turkey soup with brown or wild rice, butternut squash soup, lentil soups and other beans soups are a great way to stay warm and enjoy seasonal flavors.

exercise picture 
Get moving! Exercise is a great way to improve mood, reduce stress levels, and burn calories, too. Head out at lunchtime for a short walk, start a new family tradition and do something active at family events, dance at party functions, or make a habit of hitting the gym. You don't have to wait until January for healthy resolutions.

Image via
cherylpic Cheryl Harris is a Registered Dietitian and nutritionist in Alexandria, VA providing nutrition session and classes on Celiac disease and other food intolerances. She writes on Celiac Disease for her Today’s Dietitian, the Gluten Intolerance Group, DC Celiacs and her own free monthly gluten-free newsletter.  She considers herself incredibly lucky, because she loves her work and the chance to help others enjoy healthy and safe foods, even with food restrictions. For more information on Cheryl and many gluten free resources, see or her gluten free and allergen avoiding recipes on

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Love the pictures and layout, Linda. What fun to join you!
good tips!
Always a pleasure to see Cheryl and get her great advice.
This is some good advice, and timely, too. Thanks, Cheryl.

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