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COLUMN: Shed the guilt, enjoy the cookie this holiday season

Zehrs Bradford dietician Julia Heos shares some tips on how to indulge this holiday season without the guilt
2021-12-03 Christmas cookie
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Special guest column from Julia Heos, Registered Dietitian, Zehrs Bradford

Our relationship with food can be especially difficult around the holidays. We want to enjoy ourselves and all the deliciousness the season brings, but the nagging feeling that you shouldn’t eat something is more present than ever. This takes up so much of our time and energy, while pulling our enjoyment away from celebrating with friends and family. This year, it’s time to try something new. It’s time to eat the cookie.

As your local Bradford Registered Dietitian, I often hear my clients talk about how they resist or restrict holiday foods, only to overeat and feel guilty later. Here are a few ways we can combat negative feelings towards food this holiday season.

Don’t go out on an empty stomach

The holidays can be busy, and it’s important we keep ourselves properly fueled throughout the day. While you may be tempted to skip a meal, so you don’t feel as guilty about indulging later, the fact is that eating regularly the entire day can help your body feel better and prevent binge eating in the evening. Make sure to eat enough throughout the day, rather than restricting in anticipation of holiday meals, and enjoy your favourite seasonal treats with dinner or as desired.

Skip the cocktail

While a glass of wine or a cocktail may be synonymous with the holiday season, they don’t have to be. When celebrating, look for non-alcoholic options like a flavoured sparkling water, which will keep you hydrated. For a festive twist, pour it into a cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of orange or spoon of frozen pomegranate seeds.

Pile on the veggies

If you’re hosting this holiday season, consider serving plenty of different fibre-rich vegetable dishes and salads at the start of the meal. This will help you (and your guests) get the nutrients you need, while still being able to enjoy the seasonal treats you love. 

Don't label foods as 'bad' or 'good'

When we label certain foods as bad or off-limits it only increases our desire for them. All foods can fit into a well-balanced diet. Listening to your body is key. Choose foods that make you feel good, and that you truly enjoy. Try practicing mindful eating and savor the flavours and textures of every food you choose to enhance your eating experience.

When in doubt, I am here to help. As your local Registered Dietitian at Zehrs Bradford, we’ll work together to ensure you can enjoy your favourite foods, care for your body, and not get stuck in the cycle of guilt and dieting. Contact me at or call 289-383-7482 to learn more about my approach, and how I can support you in developing a positive relationship with food this holiday season.