The holidays bring loads of yummy food and good times, but if you’re dealing with autoimmune issues, it can make things a bit tricky. Imagine trying to enjoy all the deliciousness while also keeping yourself feeling good and healthy—it’s like walking a tightrope.

See, at holiday parties, there’s lots of tasty food, but some ingredients might not agree with people managing autoimmune issues.  For folks with autoimmune conditions, this can make them feel left out or stressed because they have to be careful about what they eat.

Plus, all the holiday rush can stress anyone out, but for those of us with autoimmune issues, stress can make things worse. So, it’s not just about parties; it’s about finding ways to enjoy the holidays without affecting your health.

So, here’s the deal: enjoying holiday food while staying healthy might sound tough, but there’s a way to do it smartly. That’s where “strategic holiday dining” comes into play.

Strategic holiday dining means making clever choices about what to eat during the holiday season. It’s all about finding a balance between eating yummy holiday treats and keeping your health in check. Think of it like a game plan—how to enjoy the tasty stuff without feeling yucky afterward.

Instead of feeling left out or stressed about food, strategic holiday dining helps you make the choices that work best for YOUR body. It’s like having a superpower during holiday gatherings—you get to savor the delicious food without worrying about feeling crappy later.

It’s about making smart food decisions that keep you feeling good so you can enjoy the festive fun without any worries. And that’s exactly what we’re here to explore—how to eat right during the holidays and have a blast without messing with your health.


Holiday dining Strategies: Family eating a holiday dinner


Strategic Holiday Dining Overview

Alright, here’s the secret sauce for a great holiday: planning and strategy. Yep, just like making a game plan for your favorite sport, having a plan for what you eat during the holidays is a game changer.

Planning ahead means thinking about what foods work well for you and your health. It’s like having a little roadmap for what you’re going to munch on during the festive times. This way, you’re ready to tackle all the yummy holiday dishes without feeling sick later.

Having a strategy helps you enjoy those get-togethers while keeping your health in check.  So, instead of stressing about what’s on the menu, having a game plan lets you be prepared and enjoy the holiday spreads without worries.

Ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat”? Well, during the holidays, it’s more like “You enjoy what you eat, but it’s got to be good for you too!”

Here’s the deal: strategic holiday dining is all about finding that sweet spot between eating what makes you happy and what keeps you feeling great. It’s like a seesaw—you want to have a good time with tasty treats, but you also want to make sure those treats don’t tip the scale too far away from feeling good.

It’s not about saying “no” to all the good stuff; it’s about finding a balance. Think of it as a delicious puzzle—figuring out how to enjoy those holiday favorites while still giving your body the good stuff it needs.

By making smart choices and being a bit thoughtful about what goes on your plate, you can enjoy the flavors you love without worrying about how you’ll feel later. It’s about having your cake (or pie) and feeling good too!  Let’s find your balance!



5 Strategies For Healthy Holiday Eating

Okay, picture this: you’re at a holiday party, and there are all these mouthwatering treats tempting you. You want to dive in, but you also want to be smart about it.  What’s a girl to do?

  1. Pace Yourself: It’s like a race you want to win without running too fast. Take it slow, enjoy each bite, and savor the flavors. This way, you get to enjoy the treats without eating too quickly or overeating.
  2. Pick Your Favorites: Choose the treats that really tickle your taste buds. Don’t just grab everything—be picky! This way, you savor what you love most without overloading your plate.
  3. Mindful Munching: Ever heard of eating with your mind? It’s all about paying attention to what you eat. Focus on each bite, chew slowly, and truly enjoy the deliciousness. This trick helps you feel satisfied with less.
  4. Healthy Swaps: Try making some swaps in recipes. For example, use less sugar or swap in healthier ingredients. This way, you still get the yumminess but with a healthier twist.
  5. Small Portions, Big Fun: Grab smaller portions of those delectable treats. This way, you can have a taste without going overboard. Remember, good things come in small packages!

It’s all about enjoying the holiday vibes while being a smart muncher!


Healthy Holiday Ingredient Swaps

Holidays are often associated with indulgent dishes, but opting for healthier substitutes can maintain the holiday spirit while supporting a balanced diet.

    1. Sugar: Instead of refined sugar, consider using natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or dates. They add sweetness with additional nutrients. If you’re watching your calories and use non-nutritive sweeteners, allulose, stevia, and monk fruit may be better choices. Remember: Less is better when it comes to any sweetener — even natural ones.
    2. White Flour: Whole grain flours such as almond flour, coconut flour, or oat flour can be excellent alternatives to refined white flour. They provide added fiber and nutrients.
    3. Butter: Avocado, mashed banana, or unsweetened applesauce can substitute for butter in baking. For savory dishes, extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil work well.
    4. Cream: Greek yogurt or coconut cream can replace heavy cream in recipes without sacrificing creaminess. They add a rich texture while offering healthier fats.
    5. Salt: Enhance flavors with herbs and spices like rosemary, thyme, turmeric, or garlic powder instead of relying solely on salt. This can reduce overall sodium intake.
    6. Processed Meats: Opt for leaner protein sources like turkey, chicken, or plant-based alternatives instead of processed meats like bacon or sausage. These options are lower in saturated fats and often higher in beneficial nutrients.

But let’s not forget about that all-important taste factor. There’s nothing worse than a bland supposedly tasty treat.  Here are a few tips to help make those holiday dishes both healthy and appealing.

  1. Taste: Experiment with spices and herbs to add depth and complexity to dishes. Incorporate a variety of seasonings to elevate flavors without relying on excessive salt or sugar.
  2. Nutrition: Seek ingredients rich in essential nutrients. For instance, incorporating nuts, seeds, or legumes in dishes can provide healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Additionally, using colorful vegetables and fruits adds not only visual appeal but also a range of vitamins and antioxidants.
  3. Texture: Consider the texture of substitutes. Almond flour might lend a denser texture in baking, while coconut oil can add a subtle coconut flavor to dishes. Adjust quantities and combinations to achieve the desired consistency.
  4. Balanced Approach: Remember, a balance between taste and nutrition is key. While making healthier substitutions, ensure the final dish still appeals to the palate of those partaking in the holiday meal.


Christmas tree with fruit and vegetable ornaments

Creative Ways To Add Fruits and Vegetables To Holiday Meals

Alright, let’s jazz up those holiday meals with some fruity and veggie goodness! You might think veggies and fruits at holiday dinners are like sidekicks, but they can steal the show with these fun ideas:

  1. Colorful Salads: Turn your salad into a vibrant masterpiece! Add a mix of colorful veggies like tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots. Toss in some fruits like sliced apples or cranberries for a sweet twist. Give this recipe for Apple, Radish, & Brussel Sprouts Salad With Pomegranate Blue Cheese Dressing a try!
  2. Fruity Sides: Get creative with side dishes! Whip up a fruity salsa with mangoes or pineapples. You can even roast veggies like Brussels sprouts with a touch of sweetness by adding dried fruits like apricots.
  3. Sneaky Smoothies: Sneak in those fruits and veggies with smoothies! Blend spinach or kale with your favorite fruits for a tasty drink that’s full of goodness.  This Cinnamon Blueberry Smoothie Recipe is one of my favs.
  4. Stuffed Goodies: Get stuffin’! Stuff veggies like bell peppers or tomatoes with a mix of grains and fruits for a flavorful dish.
  5. Sweet Endings: Wrap up the meal with fruity desserts! Bake apples or pears with a sprinkle of cinnamon or serve fruit kebabs for a sweet finale.

Adding fruits and veggies doesn’t have to be boring. With a dash of creativity, they can steal the spotlight, adding colors, flavors, and a whole bunch of nutrition to your holiday spread!



To sum it up, strategic holiday dining is about making wise food choices. It involves finding the perfect balance between enjoying delicious treats while ensuring your health stays in check. Planning ahead and being proactive play a huge role in this game plan.

It’s all about making smart decisions about what goes on your plate, speaking up about your dietary needs, and getting a little creative with your meals. Remember, these tactics help you savor the holiday season while feeling great!

Now, it’s your turn to be the holiday health champion! Whether it’s picking your favorite treats, bringing your dish, or being a menu detective, you’ve got the power to make your holiday dining awesome and worry-free.

Remember, your health matters, and making these smart choices isn’t just for the holidays—it’s a gift to yourself all year round.

If you’re seeking a little extra support on your autoimmune journey, consider checking out my new Thrive Beyond Inflammation monthly membership! It’d make a great gift for yourself or a loved one this or any time of year!

With Thrive Beyond Inflammation, you’ll gain access to a treasure trove of tools, resources, and a wonderful community dedicated to supporting you every step of the way.

Whether you’re navigating dietary changes, seeking tips for managing symptoms, or simply craving a supportive community of like-minded individuals, this membership is here for you!  Learn all about it and get on the waitlist today!


***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***










  • Susan Taylor, RDN LD

    Meet Susan, registered dietitian / nutritionist and fellow autoimmune warrior who is dedicated to helping women with autoimmune disease get their groove back. With the right diet and lifestyle changes, Susan empowers her clients to take control of their health and feel their best. When she's not busy saving the world you can find Susan strolling along the beach, jet-setting to new destinations, and soaking up quality time with family & friends.

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