Oh, the holidays – a time where families come together giving thanks, giving gifts and well… eating. With overflowing tables full of hearty, oh-so-delicious foods, eating healthy through the holidays can seem near impossible.
The good news is, it’s far from impossible and we’ve come up with a list of ways you can eat healthy during the holidays while still enjoying all that this festive season has to offer.
Bring a healthy dish to the party.
From potlucks to family feasts, it’s common for everyone to bring a special dish along to celebrate the season. This is your opportunity to put a healthy twist on traditional holiday foods to add to the table. Who knows, you might inspire others to bring healthful plates of their own or to try something new.
Eat the most nutritious foods first.
As you peruse the spread of holiday ham, bouncy cranberry sauce, and your aunt’s famous green bean casserole, it’s easy to go overboard – and then back for seconds. Instead, go for the healthiest foods first so you have a better chance of filling up on things that are actually good for you.
Begin with the salad, some turkey, and the roasted veggies. Add a little bit of hearty mashed potatoes and you’re off to a good start. Do your best to create a well-balanced meal from the options presented and avoid snacking on chips and dip before the feast is even underway.
If you’re hungry, you may be stressed (or thirsty!).
With endless shopping lists, grocery lists, and to-do lists, the holidays can surely be hectic. According to LA-based dietician Maggie Moon, you could be hungry from a variety of things including diet, hormones, and emotional factors, such as stress. It’s imperative to keep your stress levels under control or you may be at risk of overeating.
Additionally, you could be confusing thirst for hunger – an incredibly common mistake. Stay hydrated during this festive season by bringing a reusable bottle full of water with you to holiday functions and by drinking at least one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume.
Take your time and eat slowly. Savor it!
While it may seem like the holidays revolve around food, the truth is – the season revolves around people. People getting together and enjoying their time with one another. It’s a beautiful sentiment and one that should be taken to heart.
Make your time at the dinner table during your holiday gatherings more about conversations and storytelling with loved ones and take your time as you eat. Indulge in the tastes and smells of your food, all while appreciating the good company. You’ll get fuller, faster when you eat slower and more purposefully.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach.
Shopping malls are made to entice you, not only with mega holiday annual sales, but with rather unhealthy food choices all around. The best way to avoid a pit stop at Auntie Anne’s is to make sure you’re satiated before tackling your shopping list.
Bring snacks (or even just a bottle of water) to the mall and perhaps even take a detour to avoid the food court – just in case those cinnamon pretzels prove to be extra tempting.
Bring snacks to work and avoid breakroom goodies.
Beginning in November and straight into the new year, it’ll seem like the breakroom at work will be constantly filled with cakes, cookies, and pretty much every food you’re trying so hard to avoid. With these goodies right down the hall, it’s tough to resist.
Fill your desk drawer with healthy holiday treats you can easily reach for when Mark from accounting brings in another batch of sugary peppermint bark.
Tell others about your healthy eating goals.
A huge help when eating healthy through the holidays is accountability. Not only that, having a friend or family member commit to eating healthy all season with you will give you a confidant. You’ll be able to share triumphs, struggles, and of course, healthy holiday recipes with one another.
But, even if you’re on your own with the whole eating healthy thing, simply letting others know about your goals will help them understand your situation. Your loved ones will be less likely to pressure you into another slice of pecan pie when they’re aware that you’re committed to eating as healthy as possible.
Indulge in the special, seasonal foods.
Especially during the holidays, it’s important to relax and indulge here and there. It can actually be good to cheat on your healthy eating plan every so often. But with so many temptations everywhere you turn, from marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes to nightly hot cocoa, it’s key that you choose your indulgences wisely.
If grandma’s pecan pie is your absolute favorite and she only makes it for Christmas dinner, definitely have some. But, if you’re at the office holiday party and you’re tempted by store-bought chocolate chip cookies, it’s smart to resist. Choose to indulge in holiday classics that you won’t have year-round and avoid treats that you could have no matter what time of year it is.
What are your tried and true tips for eating healthy over the holidays? Share your ideas and favorite healthy holiday recipes below!