Enjoy your traditional holiday foods guilt-free

Courtesy Photo

By United Supermarkets Dietitian Team

The holidays are the most anticipated time of year because that means lots of delicious traditional food and family time! Along with the holiday joy comes stress, anxiety, and frustration. This includes not only the overwhelming list of things you have to do from shopping, to gift wrapping, to going to different events, but it may also stem from your relationship with food. If this resonates with you, let’s dive into why you should honor and enjoy your culture and traditional foods this holiday season!

1. Nutritional value in traditional foods

All traditional and cultural foods are filled with nutrients. For example, Hispanic/Latino staple foods include rice, beans, avocados, corn, squashes, fresh cheeses, lean meats, and more! Other cultures have similar food ingredients but create it, or use it differently. No matter your culture, traditions, or ethnicity, all whole foods: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and dairy products will always be high in nutrients. Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants, and minerals like vitamin C, potassium, and fiber to enhance your immune system. Your lean meats give you protein for your muscles, but also important vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Whole grains also will provide you with B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, and fiber. Your dairy products benefit you with calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A, D, and B12, protein, potassium, and many other nutrients.

2. Food has no moral value

Society often classifies food as being either “good” or “bad.” Try viewing food as either “more nutritious” or “less nutritious.” This is because “good” or “bad” can make you feel like you are embodying that choice, when in reality, eating does not make you a bad or good person. Reframing the way you view food, can tremendously help you have a better relationship with food.

3. No one food makes you gain weight

One of the most common questions I get asked is “if I eat rice will it make me gain weight?” The scientific answer is NO. Rice is very nutritious by providing fiber, protein, B vitamins, folate, and magnesium. Weight gain happens for many reasons, but one common reason is the imbalance of energy over a long period of time. This means that you are eating more than what your body is burning on a daily basis. Talk with your healthcare team, specifically a registered dietitian, who can help you create a plan that works for your lifestyle.

4. Calories are important

All foods have energy, called calories. When we eat foods, our body breaks them down, which then provides energy to our body. Energy is important because you need it for your brain to function properly, your heart to pump blood, and for daily activities such as walking and brushing your teeth. Calories are not your enemy, they are important and you need them to survive. Understanding calories is useful because it can help you maintain your weight, gain weight, or lose weight, depending on your goals. As a reference, carbohydrates and protein have 4 calories per 1 gram, fats have 9 calories per 1 gram, and alcohol has 7 calories per 1 gram. Remember that you are unique and your nutrition plan is very individualized to you.

‘Tis the season to honor your traditional dishes, health and wellness by eating the foods you love, guilt free, but also being accountable and finding ways to enhance the nutrition profile of your plate. Celebrate big this holiday season and be proud of who you are and your unique background!

Try this delicious Elote Dip that the whole family will love! This fun traditional food is a great way to get in your whole grains and extra fiber with a snack. As with all foods, calories can add up but with a few simple swaps you can enjoy it a little more!

Elote Dip


  • 2 c. frozen corn
  • 1/4 c. cotija cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. Plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 c. cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp. Ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Let corn thaw in the fridge until soft.

2. Mince cilantro and garlic.

3. Cut jalapeno in half lengthwise and seed out the middle.

4. Mince jalapeno.

5. Dice red onion.

6. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.