How to Stay Healthy With Holiday Eating
It’s the most wonderful time of the year — or is it the most fattening time of the year? While the holiday season is a time to bring family and friends together, it is also the time of holiday parties. From delectable sugar cookies and eggnog to multi-course meals and extravagant buffets, it’s hard not to indulge in the foods of the season. And while we may enjoy a plate full of goodies, our waistlines may disagree.
If you’re looking to stay healthy during the holidays, there’s no need to get discouraged. There’s a way for you to keep your energy up and your waistline the same, all while enjoying your favorite foods and treats. With some simple planning and goal setting, you can easily participate in some healthy holiday eating.
Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
Looking for a way to avoid gaining those few extra points this holiday season? You don’t have to go on a diet or avoid your favorite holiday foods. Here are a few tips on how you can enjoy your favorite holiday foods without regretting it later (1, 2, 3):
- Don’t skip meals before a big holiday dinner. Eat as normal throughout the day to help you avoid overeating and feeling sluggish afterwards.
- Eat a light snack, such as raw vegetables or apple slices with peanut butter, before the party to help manage your appetite. If the party will not have a full meal, eat a more nutritious, protein-rich dinner before going. This will help you avoid eating too many calorie-rich finger foods.
- When you arrive at a party, take time to see what foods are offered, especially when there is a buffet. Identify which foods are your indulgences and which ones are your healthy choices.
- Use a smaller plate to help with portion size and to limit how much of each food you eat.
- If you are asked to bring food to the party, bring a dish that has a healthy spin on classic holiday food.
- Wait 10 minutes before helping yourself to seconds. This will allow your stomach to signal to your brain that it’s full.
- Limit your alcohol and eggnog. Alcohol is high in sugar and can diminish your ambition to avoid overeating. Drink one glass of water per alcoholic beverage, and treat the drinks more like a dessert.
- When it comes to dessert, it’s okay to eat your favorites.
- When you feel satisfied, chew on some gum or eat a mint to help keep you from snacking on more food.
Tips to Stay Active During the Holidays
Eating healthy is only one of the challenges when it comes to staying healthy during the holidays. This time of year is often extremely busy, and exercise is often one of the first things to go. Plus, the colder weather can make you feel sluggish and tired, making it difficult to want to go to the gym. If you struggle to maintain your exercise routine during the holiday season, there are several small and simple things you can do to help keep that extra weight off (1, 3, 4):
- Rather than focusing on losing weight this time of the year, focus on maintaining your weight. When you don’t gain those extra pounds, you’ll already be ahead when it comes to your New Year’s weight goals.
- Suggest a walk before or after eating to help your stomach settle and to work off a few of those calories.
- Prioritize exercise in little ways, such as parking farther away or walking whenever possible.
- If you don’t have a big chunk of time to dedicate to exercise, break it up into 10-15 minute segments.
- Try new activities as your exercise that you can do indoors but keep your body moving.
- Exercise with friends or family to make your exercise more fun and to connect with others.
- If you can handle the colder weather, try getting outside to exercise. The fresh air will do wonders!
- Track your progress with an app.
- If you get off track, don’t get discouraged. Simply learn from the experience, set new goals, and keep moving forward.
Tips for Overall Health During the Holidays
While eating well and maintaining your exercise routine can help you stay physically healthy during the holidays, it’s important to also practice general health habits and care for your mental health. The holidays can be a stressful time, especially if you are hosting parties or guests. If you want to make sure your holiday season stays merry and bright, try these simple tips (4):
- Keep your focus on friends, family, and laughter instead of all the things you need to do.
- Be sure to wash your hands properly and often! You don’t want any bugs to stop you from enjoying your holiday plans.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep to help reduce feelings of stress, tension, and anxiety. A lack of sleep can also compromise your immune system. Try going to bed and waking up at a consistent time.
- Practice meditation or breathing exercises, or repeat affirmations to help reduce stress.
Have a Holly, Jolly Holiday
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the business of the holiday season, and as a result, many of us push our personal health and well-being to the side. This year, give yourself the gift of self-care by making sure you don’t neglect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. With a little preparation and a few simple habits, you can experience healthy holiday eating and avoid those few extra pounds all while staying happy and still enjoying your favorite holiday treats.