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A registered dietitian with Manitoba's Dial a Dietitian program wants to spin the messaging surrounding holiday meals. 

Coralee Hill says around this time of year there is a lot of negative messaging directed towards people who indulge over the holidays, which can be very damaging for a person's mental health. 

"There is the potential to over-eat during the holidays with lots of family getting together or workplace meetings where people will eat treats," Hill said. "There is a lot of blogs and media stories about the potential to gain weight over the holidays or tips on how to not gain weight during the holidays, and for me I feel these messages are also fueling fears people have and can make the holidays even more daunting for people who might be eating out of stress or those who have an eating disorder." 

"It makes people feel guilt or shame or that they might lose control around the food, and this could lead to further over-indulging or perhaps unhealthy dieting for the rest of the year." 

Hill says past research has shown that on average, people gain less than a pound during the holiday season. 

"It goes so show that a lot of this can be over exaggerated," Hill said. "What we eat and what we do with our health during the rest of the year is far more important than this small chunk of time from late November to early January." 

According to Hill, the best thing people can do during the holiday season is treat "meal days" like they would any other day. She adds as long as people are eating in moderation, being mindful of when they are full and when they should stop and are keeping their activity levels up, people have nothing to worry about. 

"If we do these things, any sort of small indulgence or potential to over-indulge one evening won't be a big deal," Hill said. "I think we need to change our mindset around food. Instead of adding stress and guilt, let's empower people to feel good about themselves and encourage them to be more mindful of their eating so they can enjoy this time with their family and friends." 

"This season is about traditions and making memories, so why should we eat with regret and shame?"

Hill says if people have any questions about holiday eating they can always call the Dial a Dietitian program, which is a free service for everyone in the province. 

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